from the Delaware Chapter of the American Lung Association
Most people know that motor vehicles emissions contribute to air pollution. Dirty air can make it harder for people to breathe. For those with asthma and other lung diseases, air pollution can be especially harmful to the lungs, making breathing even more difficult. Even healthy people can be adversely affected by polluted air.
According to the American Lung Association, motor vehicles contribute about half of the total amount of air pollution in the United States. Emissions that affect your health include:
- Carbon Monoxide- an odorless, colorless gas that enters the body through the lungs and takes oxygen out of the blood putting a strain on the lungs and heart.
- Hydrocarbons- byproducts of burning gasoline that react with nitrogen dioxide and sunlight to form ozone air pollution. Ozone can irritate the nose, throat, and eyes. It also can cause headaches, chest pains and difficult breathing.
- Nitrogen Dioxide- a gas that contributes to ozone. It also causes damage to lung tissue, aggravates asthma and lowers the body's resistance to infection.
There are simple steps that everyone can take to reduce their motor vehicle emissions. Car manufacturers, in compliance with the Clean Air Act, have created cars that run 90% cleaner than they did 20 years ago. It's up to you to keep your car running efficiently. Cars that are poorly maintained often work harder, wear out faster and cause more air pollution.
Get a Tune Up
Enabling your car to burn gasoline as completely and efficiently as possible will help decrease air pollution. Some areas of maintenance to have your mechanic check:
- Incorrect carburetor adjustment (on older models)
- Damaged catalytic converter
- Fouled spark plugs
- Poorly adjusted ignition timing
- Clogged PCV system
- Dirty air filter
It’s important that everyone breathes clean air. But there are other benefits to maintaining your car. These include saving money on gas and repairs, increasing the engine life, improving performance and reducing air pollution.
The American Lung Association of Delaware has a free Car Care Maintenance Envelope that reminds you of your car's regular check-ups. Please contact 1-800-LUNG-USA (586-4872) for your copy.