Car exhausts release carbon monoxide and other greenhouse gases, which contribute significantly to global warning. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which causes worldwide temperatures to rise and unless action is taken to reduce these emissions, the whole pattern of the world’s weather could change, increasing the frequency and intensity of heatwaves, floods, droughts and storms. Burning excessive amounts of fossil fuels, such as gas and diesel, has caused an increase in global temperatures since pre-industrial times and this will continue to rise over the coming decades, affecting farming, wildlife and sea levels as well as natural landscape.
Not only do emissions contribute to global warming, they also affect the air, soil and water quality. The emissions released often create smog, a condition in which pollution is trapped in an urban area and can contribute to significant health problems. Acid rain is created as a result of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide having mixed together with rainwater, which damages crops, forests and other vegetation and buildings. Furthermore, when a vehicle has an oil or fuel spillage, this seeps into the soil nearby and any discarded fuel and particulates from vehicle emissions can contaminate lakes, rivers and wetlands.
On top of this, car pollutants, such as particulate matter, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide are harmful to human health. Diesel engines emit high levels of particulate matter, which is airborne particles of soot and metal. This can cause skin and eye irritation, as well as allergies and can also affect the lungs as very fine particles can lodge deep in the lungs where they can cause respiratory problems. Carbon monoxide is also particularly dangerous to infants and those suffering from heart disease as it interferes with the blood’s ability to transport oxygen.
So, now that we know the effects that car pollutants have on the environment, the question is, what can we do to help reduce this pollution? There are several ways that we can help to reduce the effects of pollutants on the environment. For example, if you’re living in an urban area, its often easier to take the train or a bus than it is to drive, which is a more environmentally friendly alternative to driving a car and a riding a bike or walking is obviously even better as this will reduce traffic congestions and decrease the need for more parking.
If you’re thinking of buying a new car, perhaps consider an electric, hybrid and other clean, fuel-efficient cars as these have a reduced impact. Check the fuel economy and environment label as high ratings mean low pollution levels. You could also maximise fuel potential by removing any unnecessary items such as roof racks and driving steadily, as oppose to accelerating quickly and braking hard. But of course, the most obvious answer as to how we could help to reduce car pollutants would be to walk, bike or use public transport wherever possible and if you are thinking of selling your car for whatever reason, check out our car selling guidance section to help get you started.