A recent study conducted by University of Toronto researchers found that just 25 percent of cars they measured produced about 90 percent of the total traffic-related air pollution.
Pollutants like carbon dioxide (CO2) are known to have a negative impact on climate change, but cars also emit a wide array of pollutants associated with lung cancer, respiratory diseases, and heart disease. The researchers focused on measuring these types of pollutants, and found that just a quarter of cars produced the majority of particulates and carbon monoxide in the area.
Jonathan Wang, one of the authors of the study and a chemical engineering PhD student at the University of Toronto, said the chief polluters were older cars in need of a tune-up.
“We found it was a large amount of transport trucks, but a good proportion was just cars – a mixture of both,” Wang said. “We suspect they were older vehicles.”
The researchers took real-time measurements of the exhaust of about 100,000 cars driving past air-sampling probes on one of Toronto’s busiest roads. The study was borne out of concern that vehicle fleet emissions spread farther than previously known.
In addition to total particulates and carbon monoxide, the researchers found that a quarter of cars measured produced over 76 percent of pollutants like benzene, toluene, and other known carcinogens.
Besides driving an older vehicle (anything older than seven years), Wang said driving behavior could also have a huge impact on pollution.
“Cruising at normal speeds is better than heavy braking and heavy acceleration,” he said. “Stop-and-go traffic can increase emissions for vehicles.”
The report shows that drivers have pretty good control over local car pollution, Wang said. Modifying your driving behavior, maintaining your vehicle with regular oil changes and air filter replacements, and choosing a newer car with good gas mileage could all impact air quality.
So if you want to buy a car that doesn’t ruin the world, here’s where to start:
• Buy newer
• Do your research
• Consider multiple pollutants
• Get a car record
This article has been edited for length. Source: Boston.com
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