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Pollution from Connecticut’s Cars and Trucks Is Rising and Driving Public Health Impacts

Samantha Dynowski

May 2024

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Two reports released in April highlight – once again – the critical need to reduce emissions from vehicles on Connecticut’s roadways.


The first, a new Sierra Club study, found that all 3.6 million Connecticut residents live in areas with unsafe smog levels. Local smog levels have exceeded the minimum federal air quality standard by over 40% in recent years, according to the report. As summer ushers in warmer weather and increased sunlight, poor air quality is particularly concerning. Vehicle emissions and other heavily polluting sources mix with sunlight to form smog that worsens respiratory illnesses, causing asthma attacks and bronchitis. 


The second report, Connecticut’s annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory, was released by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and shows that transportation emissions have increased four percent since 2021. Accounting for the largest share of pollution of any industry, the transportation sector is currently not on track to achieve the state’s mandated 2030 greenhouse gas reductions.


In Connecticut's communities of color and low-income communities, smog levels from transportation pollution are especially high. Emergency room visits for asthma attacks among Black children ages 2 to 17 in Connecticut are over five times more frequent than similar visits among white children. Black Connecticut residents of all ages are three times as likely, and Hispanic residents of all ages are twice as likely, to die from asthma than their white neighbors. 


On high smog days, pollution from vehicles in the state contributes 5.48 ppb of ozone to the state’s nonattainment areas. That is nearly eight times what EPA considers a legally “significant contribution” sufficient to bring an entire state under emissions reduction requirements. 


In March, state leaders failed to pass the Advanced Clean Cars II and Advanced Clean Trucks rules, delaying necessary relief to Connecticut residents with respiratory illnesses. Eleven states have adopted the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) standards. Thirteen states, plus Washington, DC, have adopted the Advanced Clean Cars II (ACCII) standards. Across the northeast, Connecticut’s neighboring states have adopted both. 

Samantha Dynowski is State Director of Sierra Club Connecticut.

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