Air Pollution and Automobiles
February 22, 2010
The automobiles that we travel in everyday play a vital role in our lives. They get us around from one place to another on a daily basis. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA 2010) many studies show that exhaust emissions from these vehicles are the number one air pollutant in the United States. Air pollution causes many different issues that affect personal health as well as environmental factors. Over the years many different studies have been done by different people and agencies showing how reducing air pollution from automobiles can only benefit the earth. The government has been one of the largest advocates of lowering emissions from automobiles. Because excessive exhaust emissions created by automobiles is a major factor in air pollution, the government has enacted many laws and regulations limiting the amount of emissions vehicles may produce.
Automobiles are a major cause of air pollution around the world. As the number of vehicles on the road increases, the amount of emissions from these vehicles increases. As of 2003 Leslie Miller shows that the (World Almanac 2003) reported that there were more than 107 million households throughout the United States (U.S.) Leslie reported that the Bureau of Transportation statistics show that there are roughly 204,000,000 vehicles registered in the U.S. That produces a ratio of 1.9 cars to 1.8 people per household in the U.S. The number of vehicles registered in the U.S. has been doubling every five years. If this trend continues as it has over the past 30 years, by the year 2030 there will be approximately 1,200,000,000 (1.2 Billion) vehicles producing some type of toxic emission into our earth’s atmosphere.
The vehicles that we drive produce many different toxic gasses affecting our earth negatively. These emissions affect our environment and damage the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is the process in which infrared rays are emitted from the sun into the earth’s atmosphere trapping heat that keeps the earth’s temperature in a habitable range. Toxic gasses from our automobiles released into the atmosphere do much damage to this natural process. As the gasses release, the atmosphere will deteriorate which allows the earth’s core temperature to rise. This process causes difficulty in farming as well as the melting of the polar ice caps virtually flooding the earth slowly. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is the most emitted gas into the atmosphere. The Environmental Protection Agency (2010) shows that cars release 76% of the CO2 that is present in the earth’s atmosphere. For every gallon of gas used by an automobile there is approximately 20 pounds of CO2 released into the atmosphere. CO2 is a heat-trapping gas released by the combustion process by our vehicles. (Cakmak 2006), Shows that CO2 is the largest contributing factor to the smog in highly congested areas around the U.S. The following is an emissions chart breaking down the source of the seven most common air pollutants. As you can see highway vehicles are the largest source of air pollution in the geographic area of The United States. The major pollutants abbreviations are shown below and correlate with the graph that follows.
Geographic Area: United States
Pollutant: Carbon Monoxide (CO), Nitrogen Oxides (Nox), Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), Sulfur Dioxide SO2, Particulate (size < 2.5 micrometers) (PM 2.5), Particulate (size < 10 micrometers) (PM 10), or Ammonia (NH3)
Emissions by Category Chart
(Environmental Protection Agency, 2002)
The exhaust systems on our vehicles also produce another pollutant known as hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are produced by our vehicles when fuel molecules in these vehicles do not fully burn and then travel through the exhaust...