Your Health and your Car

By: Hanna Racey

Air pollution is one of the well known types of pollution. Doctors and researchers point it out as the main cause of respiratory illnesses. Such pollution is derived from factories, appliances, engines, and cars, or anything that secretes harmful gases such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, suspended particles less than 10 microns in size, benzene, formaldehyde, and polycyclic hydrocarbons. And among auto parts, the exhaust system excretes these pathogens.

In a research, it was found out that nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide can cause cancer.

Ninety-five percent of pollution related sulfur oxide emissions are in the form of sulfur dioxide (SO2), a heavy, colorless gas with an odor like a struck match. This gas combines easily with water vapor, forming aerosols of sulfurous acid (H2SO3), a colorless, mildly corrosive liquid. This liquid may then combine with oxygen in the air, forming the even more irritating and corrosive sulfuric acid (H2SO4).

Exposure to high concentrations for a short period of time can constrict the bronchi and increase mucous flow, making breathing difficult. Children, the elderly, and those with chronic lung disease and asthma are especially susceptible to these effects. Sulfur dioxide can also:

&bullImmediately irritate the lung and throat at concentrations greater than 6 parts per million (ppm) in many people.
&bullImpair the respiratory system's defenses against foreign particles and bacteria, when exposed to concentrations less than 6 ppm for longer time periods.
&bullApparently enhance the harmful effects of ozone. (Combinations of the two gases at concentrations occasionally found in the ambient air appear to increase airway resistance to breathing.)

Bad headaches and nausea are caused by benzene.

Most formaldehyde exposures occur by inhalation or by skin or eye contact. Formaldehyde is absorbed well by and destroys the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and skin.

Lastly, according to the same research, polycyclic hydrocarbons can cause cancer.

The automotive industry is one major contributor to air pollution. To combat air pollution it is important for car owners to keep their vehicles in shape, as badly maintained vehicles are more likely to contribute to air pollution. Auto parts, especially the exhaust system must be regularly checked and worn or damaged parts immediately replaced with quality parts like the system.

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