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What causes vehicular pollution?


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December 13, 2010 2:47PM

When a car burns fuel (gasoline) the by products include: carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter, and water.

That's the cause of vehicular pollution (basically just the combustion of gasoline results in those by-products).

The damage these sorts of pollutants can do is far reaching and somewhat controversial. We can look to a city like Los Angeles for a prime example of automobile pollution. Surprising to many people is the fact that it is the NOx that causes the major city problem of smog. When sunlight hits NOx, a chemical reaction occurs resulting in smog.

Basically you get a reaction like NOx + O2 + sunlight -> N2 + O3 (ozone)

Ground level ozone is what we call smog. Breathing in smog can cause health problems, since it can decrease the ability of the lungs to work properly.

One can prevent car pollution by doing things such as:

1) Carpooling

2) Using public transportation

3) Trying to use your car less; use a bike iif you can

4) When you buy your next car, try and get a car that can use alternative fuel, such as ethanol38 or biodiesel. These both produce much less in the way of air pollutants.

5) Consider an electric car.

6) The government could try and impose stricter air pollution standards on auto makers (however, most auto companies are now trying to produce cleaner cars due to environmental lobby from both private and consumer organizations)

7) Offer tax incentives for using cleaner burning fuels/cars (this already is in place!)