Cars are devastating for the environment. They belch 3 billion pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year, and because of this, they degrade the ozone layer. Cars rely on oil, a reliance which can hurt our environment and contribute to climate change. The US relies on the Middle East to provide for us and fuel our engines. One way to end the problems associated with toxic car emissions would be if we transitioned away from diesel fuels into clean technology.
Some air pollutants and particulate matter from cars can be deposited on soil and surface waters where they enter the food chain; these substances can affect the reproductive, respiratory, immune and neurological systems of animals. Nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides are major contributors to acid rain, which changes the pH of waterways and soils and can harm the organisms that rely on these resources. The ozone layer helps to protect life on earth from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, but human activities have contributed to the accelerated depletion of this protective shield. Substances that contribute to ozone depletion usually have high concentrations of chlorine or bromine atoms and include chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, halons, methyl bromide, carbon tetrachloride and methyl chloroform.
Vehicle emissions contain few chlorine- or bromine-heavy substances, and therefore have little effect on ozone depletion. Even though they are not good for human health, hydrocarbons are recognized by the EPA as having no ozone depletion potential. Ozone levels remain high in that emission control systems do not always perform as designed over the full useful life of the vehicle. Routine aging and deterioration, poor state of tune, and emission control tampering can all increase vehicle emissions. In fact, a major portion of ozone-forming hydrocarbons can be attributed to a relatively small number of “super-dirty” cars whose emission control systems are not working properly. Unless we dramatically reduce the amount of pollution vehicles emit in actual use, or drastically cut back on the amount we drive, smog-free air will continue to elude many cities.