How Much Do Vehicles Really Contribute To Air Pollution?

How Much Do Vehicles Really Contribute To Air Pollution? When you get in your car and drive somewhere, many harmful pollutants are released into the air. This poses serious health risks, especially for those close to major thoroughfares.

How Much Do Vehicles Really Contribute To Air Pollution?

Vehicles are a big source of air pollution every time a cloud of smoke curls out from your car’s tailpipe or from any of the many modes of transportation we use to get around and transfer things around the world.

When there are unwanted compounds or high concentrations of harmless pollutants in the air, we call this air pollution. Pollutants are released into the air whenever a vehicle burns gasoline. Even when gasoline is pumped into fuel tanks, gasoline fumes can be released into the atmosphere. So, how much do vehicles really contribute to air pollution?

What are the main types of air pollution?

Both the quantity and nature of pollutants released by your vehicle are affected by variables such as the make and model of the engine, the fuel used, and the quality of the vehicle’s upkeep. The three most common air pollution caused by vehicles are listed below.

Particulate matter

This is the material that can be directly observed. Do you smell those toxic emissions coming from the truck you’re stopped behind? Breathing it in can damage your lungs and even get into your bloodstream because it combines solid particles and liquid droplets.

Carbon monoxide (CO)

Carbon monoxide is released into the air whenever a car burns fuel. If you breathe in high enough concentrations of carbon monoxide, it can harm your brain, heart, and other organs to the point of death.

According to the EPA, automobile exhaust accounts for up to 95% of urban areas’ carbon monoxide emissions.

Nitrogen dioxide(NO2)

When your car burns fuel, it releases several pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide is harmful to the lungs and has been related to chronic lung disease if inhaled over time.

Also Read: Hydrogen Cars Vs Electric Cars: Which Is More Sustainable?

Air pollution from nitrogen oxides plays a role in climate change by increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Transport vehicles, such as cars and trucks, majorly contribute to air pollution.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, nearly 27% of GHG emissions are due to transportation. According to EPA estimates, cars account for over 75% of CO2 pollution in the US.

Passenger vehicles

The average passenger vehicle releases about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. That’s the equivalent of 404 grams every mile.

Methane and nitrous oxide are also emitted from tailpipes. Although these are present at far lower concentrations than carbon dioxide, they contribute significantly to global warming.

And it’s not only the engine that’s a cause of pollution; the gas fumes that escape when you fill up also add to the smog in the air.

The release of hydrofluorocarbons is another problem brought on by a leaking air conditioner. This adds to the emission of greenhouse gases and hence accelerates global warming.

Furthermore, not all vehicles contribute the same amount to air pollution. Based on the results of a single study, it seems that only 25% of the vehicles in any given fleet are responsible for roughly 90% of the pollution produced.

Commercial vehicles

The ships, railroads, and trucks we use to move products also contribute significantly to pollution levels in the atmosphere.

When considering environmental impacts, “free shipment” isn’t truly free.

Quick shipping and online shopping have made many things more accessible, but at the expense of increased traffic on roads, waterways, and in the air.

Many major corporations, including Etsy and IKEA, have recognized this and committed to emission-free shipping.

However, there is good news: modern vehicles are believed to be 98-99% cleaner for most pollutants than their 1960s-era counterparts.

  • Polluted air is bad for people and the environment in many ways. It’s harmful to the Earth, human beings, and all other species here.
  • The incidence of cancer and congenital malformations may rise due to increased air pollution.
  • Asthma and cardiovascular illness are on the rise.
  • Eye and lung irritation.

Polluted air is bad for more than just people. Animals, plants, and marine life are all negatively impacted by air pollution, according to a plethora of studies.

Greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases are increased due to air pollution. While a certain amount is necessary to keep the Earth’s temperature stable, an excess is harmful.

Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases are a significant contributor to warming global temperatures. Its repercussions include severe weather, floods, wildfires, and increasing sea levels.

How can we reduce vehicular emissions?

The foregoing data makes it very evident that transportation is a major contributor to air pollution. Let’s examine our options for lowering it now. Innovative, eco-friendly automobiles are needed to lessen the environmental impact of transportation. Instead of relying solely on modern electric transportation options, we can always fall back on tried-and-true bicycles. In fact, this is something that the Nordic countries have been doing more of as time has progressed.

The use of bicycles is being considered a possible answer.

Bicycling is an excellent method of getting people off their couches and moving around, helping to improve the environment and make the world cleaner and greener. It is not unusual to see the streets of Stockholm filled with motorcycle riders. Besides relieving traffic congestion in major cities like Los Angeles and Bengaluru, it also suspends the push to build additional factories, which ultimately contribute to pollution.

Final Note

10% of the United States particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and PM 10 emissions come from the transportation industry, per data from the Environmental Protection Agency. This proves that cars shouldn’t be exonerated of all responsibility. It’s not entirely undeserved, though.

Going back to when people only traveled by foot is an impractical idea. And this is exactly why we have to make a decision. Either we all get in our huge, shiny cars and drive around in a N95 mask for the rest of our lives, or we all get on our bicycles and get the environment back to where it was.

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