Pollution from car exhaust:
Since the Clean Air Act passed in the 1970s, the average car pollutes a lot less than before. Unfortunately, these improvements are offset by the growing number of cars on the road and the increase number of miles the average car is traveling each year. To make matters worse, some of the most popular vehicles on the road today are the worst polluting. Nearly half of all passenger cars sold in 1998 were sport utility vehicles (SUVs), minivans and pick-up trucks. Thanks to loopholes in clean air safeguards, these vehicles are allowed to pollute three times as much and burn more fuel than the average car.
As a result, pollution from cars is causing serious health problems for Americans. Here are three of them:
1. Air pollution from cars can make it harder for you to breathe.
Two of the most dangerous pollutants emitted by cars are nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). When nitrogen oxide and VOCs interact with sunlight they form smog. Automobiles are the source of 30% of the nation's smog-forming nitrogen oxide and 20% of VOC emissions.
What does smog pollution do to you? It makes your eyes water, makes your nose run, and can leave you short of breath. At least 117 million Americans live in areas where it is often, especially in the summer, unsafe to breathe the air due to smog pollution.
2. If you have asthma, air
pollution from cars can send you to the hospital.
Smog pollution triggers asthma attacks, forcing asthma sufferers to rely more heavily on their medication and, during the worst atacks, to go to the hospital.
How widespread is the problem? Approximately 14.6 million people in the U.S., 4.6 million of them children, have asthma. Asthma rates among children are up 75% since 1980.
3. If you have a respiratory
problem, air pollution from cars can kill you.
Automobiles emit 8% of the nation's particulate pollution, also know as soot. Soot pollution can cause heart and repiratory disease and aggravate respiratory problems. In the worst cases, soot can kill people.
Can soot really kill people? Scientists
estimate that 40,000 Americans die prematurely each year due to complications
aggravated by soot pollution.
ANN ARBOR, Michigan, March 12, 2002 (ENS) - For the first time, researchers
have shown that air pollution can harm the blood vessels of healthy humans.
The study provides further evidence that everyone - not just people without
heart disease or other health problems - may be at risk from breathing polluted air.