It’s no secret that an overwhelming majority of cars built today depend highly on fossil fuels—which is not good for our planet.  According to Sciencing.com, cars, trucks and other forms of transportation is the single largest contributor to air pollution in the United States. Cars release pollutants that cause a wide range of issues for the environment and human health in general.

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Soil & Water

Even after a car has exhausted its time on the road, it still has the ability to do damage to the environment when they’re in junk yards. Auto parts, such as batteries or engines with oil or gasoline, can often times be disassembled in junk yards and the process alone can lead to leakage into soil and any bodies of water nearby. Cars can also contribute to pollution through sulfur dioxide—sulfur dioxide is created when fuel containing sulfur is burned and when gasoline is extracted from oil.  When sulfur dioxide mixes with rain water it creates acid rain which damages crops, vegetation, and forests.

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Our Health

Diesel fuel, normally used to power buses and trucks, emits airborne particles such as metal and soot. These airborne particles can cause skin irritations and allergies. The smallest particles can nestle into our lungs and can cause respiratory issues as well. Surprisingly, the noise from cars is also harmful to our health. The effects of noise on hearing may vary among people, but any sound that is too loud can cause damage to hearing. According to CultureChange.org, “researchers have found vehicle noise pollution to be a major cause of stress.” Vehicle noise pollution can also be traced to stress related illnesses—one being high blood pressure. When people are exposed intrusive sounds, it puts them in a state of agitation with an increased level in blood pressure.

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Climate Change

Car pollution is one of the major causes of climate change. All of the gases that cars emit, including greenhouse gases, contribute a great deal to climate change as well. As stated by Sciencing.com, greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, which causes temperatures to rise worldwide. Warmer temperatures around the world affect farming, wildlife, sea levels and natural landscapes.

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How you can help

There are many ways to help lower the amount of car pollutants in the environment. Whenever the time comes to purchase a new car, be sure to check the fuel economy and environment label. This label tells you about the ratings and pollution level the vehicle will produce. A high rating means lower pollution levels. Additionally, keeping your car well maintained by getting regular checkups at your local mechanic is also a great way to make sure your vehicle is not contributing too many air pollutants to the environment.  If your car is used sparingly, you could also re-evaluate if you really need your own car. There are alternate ways of travel such as taking public transit, riding a bike, walking, or using a car-sharing app or service.