The topic of vehicle emissions can be a confusing and emotive one, with ever-changing guidelines and increasing restrictions being placed on older vehicles. Last week, we looked at the basics: what exhaust emissions are, and what they contain. But why are they so dangerous? This week we will look at the effects of breathing exhaust fumes, and some of the initiatives designed to reduce pollution.
The impact of exhaust fumes on your body
The range of pollutants produced by engines can have serious implications on health, from allergies to breathing problems and conditions such as vocational asthma. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), being exposed to high levels of fumes from vehicles over a long period of time can increase risks of developing lung cancer and in some cases, pollution has been attributed to the tragic loss of life.
The effect of exhaust fumes is worsened if a vehicle isn’t running properly. A block in the exhaust system can lead to increased levels of carbon monoxide (CO). When present in high levels, CO can cause headaches, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and even death. The impact of exhaust fumes on your health will vary according to your age and overall health – children and people living with heart disease are more susceptible to the effects of CO, for example. The impact will also be determined by the volume of fumes you are exposed to, and the length of exposure. If you live in a very built up area and are exposed to higher levels of pollution on a daily basis, you are more likely to experience problems associated with pollution than someone who lives in a less densely populated area.
Initiatives to reduce exhaust emissions
There is pressure across the globe to act to fight climate change, and reducing emissions is a top priority. Aside from the huge uptake of electric and hybrid vehicles, car manufacturers are working to improve the way engines process emissions. Catalytic converters and particulate filters can be found on all diesel and petrol cars, and the government has vowed to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars by 2030. We have all heard of ULEZ – Ultra Low Emissions Zones and the government intends to continue to extend these zones, with some cars being subject to charges upon entry to them. This initiative is not unique to the UK, with other European countries adopting similar practices in a bid to reduce massive pollution levels in major cities.
If you are buying a new or new to you vehicle, check with your car dealer or local garage to see what is the most environmentally friendly, and take care to drive in a way that reduces your fuel consumption, which could be friendlier for your bank balance as well as the environment. Want to know more? Follow Trust A Garage on Facebook or X.