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America's Vehicle Emissions

5 Pages 1287 Words

As the owner of an SUV, perhaps the least environmentally conscious vehicle, I realize that I need to know exactly why my everyday transportation is unhealthy and politically incorrect. My car goes about 18 miles per gallon in San Francisco city driving and perhaps a few more miles per gallon on the freeway. I try to drive my car as little as possible, but as consuming American I often place convenience over health. However, I would like to know how all that burnt fuel affects everyone else? The Environmental Protection Agency stated, "The most polluting activity an average person does everyday is drive his car"(1 factsheet OMS-5).
Most pollution that is released by cars comes from the exhaust, mainly in the form of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are organic compounds, a combination of two or more elements that contain only carbon and hydrogen. Hydrocarbons are released when fuel in the engine burns partially. When hydrocarbons come in contact with sunlight they form ground level ozone. Ground level ozone is a major ingredient in the formation of smog. Ground level ozone is responsible for irritating eyes, damaging lungs, and it complicating respiratory problems. When upper level ozone is low; however, people are harmed. At ozone levels 33 percent below the current federal standard, children at summer camp and healthy exercising adults suffer from shortness of breath, coughing, painful breathing and loss of lung function. (American Lung Association 6)Two more pollutants released through car exhaust are carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. The first reduces the flow of oxygen to the bloodstream, and could harm people with heart disease. Nitrogen oxide is formed when a car engine gets hot. It contains chemicals that aid in the formation of ground level ozone as well as acid rain (2 factsheet, OMS-5). Acid rain destroys the outsides of buildings, statues, etc. Acid rain can also contaminate drinking water, damage vegetation, and dest...

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