Cars And Their Effects On Us And Our Surroundings

Ever since cars became commercial, they have been associated with pollution. Especially air pollution. The presence of foreign elements in the air which are not supposed to be there, or excessive amounts of impurities which are hazardous to health is termed as air pollution. Cars burn fossil fuels like petrol or diesel to run the engines and as a result of this combustion, fumes are generated. These fumes are expelled into the environment through the exhaust pipes of the vehicles. The exhaust fumes can cause a number of environmental issues like global warming, soil pollution, water pollution, and air pollution. In turn, these affect the human health as well. Not only that, these pollutants have an adverse effect on the ozone layer.

Components Present In Exhaust Fumes:

The main components in vehicle fumes are carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, hydrocarbons, and particulate matters. The emissions of these pollutants are regulated by the Euro emissions standards. Generally, modern cars emit very small quantities of these pollutants, but the number of vehicles running on the roads has also gone up significantly and the accumulative pollution caused by them still strikes a major issue. The effects of these pollutants are being discussed below:

  • Carbon Monoxide (CO): This is perhaps one of the highest vehicle-emitted pollutants and has manifold effects on our health. CO reduces the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood, thus causing reduction of oxygen supply to key organs. Carbon Monoxide might also expose a person to the risk of suffering from heart ailments.
  • Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx): Oxides of Nitrogen like nitrogen oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO?) can cause major health issues, especially among people already suffering from respiratory problems. The NO from exhaust fumes reacts with oxygen in the air to form NO?. Long-term exposure to oxides of nitrogen may affect the normal functioning of the lungs as well and decrease the ability to tolerate allergens, thus making a person more sensitive and prone to allergies and lung ailments. The oxides of nitrogen also contribute to environmental hazards like smog formation and acid rain. It can cause vegetation damage and promote ground-level ozone formation as well.
  • Hydrocarbons (HC): Hydrocarbons are responsible for a number of ailments in human beings. They can add to ground-level ozone formation which leads to the risk of damaging the respiratory system. They also have carcinogenic characters and can lead to cancer.
  • Particulate matter (PM): Particulate matter is a complex mixture of tiny solid and liquid particles. These are fine particles which are suspended in air and often have an adverse effect on our health. Particulate matters can cause health issues related to respiratory problems or cardiovascular problems.

Effects Of Pollution Caused By Cars:

Pollutants from cars can cause both immediate as well as long-term problems. The above mentioned pollutants can harm both our health and environment in various ways. Some of the ill-effects are being listed below:

  • Global warming: Although there are innumerable factors affecting global warming, the pollutants expelled from cars are one of the major reasons. Combustion of fossil fuels leads to release of gases like carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. It also releases other greenhouse gases including hydrocarbons (which are indirect greenhouse gases). These gases leads to global warming and in turn affects the environment.
  • Air, water, and soil pollution: Air, water, and soil are heavily affected by the effects of vehicular pollution. The ozone layer is depleting which puts the earth at risk of being exposed to harmful ultraviolet radiation of the sun. Oxides of sulphur and nitrogen mixes with rainwater to create acid rain.
  • Health hazards: Right from respiratory ailments to cancer, car pollutants are responsible for a lot of health hazards. It is also responsible for making the immunity weak. Thus, the the risk of being exposed to different diseases and complications also increases.

What Can We Do To Reduce Car Pollution?

The maximum amount of pollution is emitted from old and unmaintained vehicles. The usage of electric cars or hybrid cars helps in toning down the pollution levels. The modern and fuel efficient cars can also help in reducing the impact of pollution to a great extent. While buying a car, you can look for the rating of the vehicle. A higher rating signifies a lower pollution rate. Maintaining good driving habits and servicing your vehicles on time will also lead to better fuel economy and hence, lesser pollution. Using public transportation wherever possible and walking for travelling short distances can also help in toning down the pollution problems.

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