American drivers and passengers in their automobiles are exposed to less pollution than several years ago. An average American can spend 1 hour in a car to get to and from work.
But in-car pollution is still an issue for a great number of American motorists and their passengers. It is not true that you can escape pollution by sitting inside a vehicle.
Levels of air pollution in cars because exposure to toxic air is often far higher inside than outside vehicles. Scientists have discovered that about 50% of the pollutants in cars come from the automobiles moving ahead. The level of VOCs is higher if they are highly polluting, such as diesel trucks.
The pollutants come largely from gasoline and diesel exhaust fumes and include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, and formaldehyde (known or suspected carcinogens), carbon monoxide (which interferes with the blood’s ability to transport oxygen), nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter (both coarse and fine particles).
The main things that control pollution level in a car are:
- the number of cars on the road;
- the age of the auto;
- driving speed;
- ventilation in the car;
- traffic congestion;
- the type of automobiles ahead of you;
- weather, and many other factors.
A car is a box collecting toxic gases from all the vehicles around you.
A range of experiments has shown that drivers inside vehicles are exposed to far higher levels of air pollution than walkers or cyclists.
If you open or close a car’s windows and vents, you can reduce some pollutants and increase others. Keeping the windows closed with the fan on (which brought in outside air) also significantly increases in-car pollutants.
The car has the fans, sucking the fresh exhaust coming out of the car or lorry in front of them straight into the back of the car. This way, passengers that are in the back of the car suffer from in-car air pollution.
Many of pollutants are especially dangerous for people with lungs or heart problems. They increase the risk for inflammation and blood clotting and can cause congestion, sinus, and irritation of the throat, chest discomfort, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and headaches.
Air pollution levels are high at sections with traffic lights and gas stations because drivers decelerate, idle, and accelerate here more often.
New Car Smell
A “new car smell” many people feel first months after purchasing is caused by a witch’s brew of chemicals.
A great number of VOCs come from these materials in the auto:
- foam cushions;
It is important particularly in case of new cars and in hot weather. High temperature helps release the chemicals and in some cases contributes them to break down into toxic byproducts.
The smell of a new car dissipates for some time, according to experiments, it took 4 months for high levels of VOCs to drop. But even in 3 years, if the temperature in a car got higher, the levels got higher again.
How to Reduce Air Pollution in a Car?
- Best car air purifiers can remove a wide range of air pollutants inside the car. Trials have shown these devices can cut the harmful NO2 gas inside cars by up to 90%.
- Keep a safe distance from polluting vehicles around you – especially HGVs.
- Take care of your car properly. Poorly-kept vehicle is likely to pollute the air inside.
- Choose roads with fewer traffic lights.
- Don’t count on usual air filtration systems. They don’t help to eliminate volatile organic compounds, fine particulates, carbon monoxide, or other pollutants.
- Don’t park your car in direct sunlight.
- Don’t use fresheners in your auto.
- Don’t smoke inside your auto.
- Don’t use chemical cleaners.
My name is Stanislav Matveev. Here, on this site I write articles about an eco-friendly and healthy lifestyle. I’ve been a raw vegan since July 2015.