Every driver can curtail exhaust emissions
(NC)—When you drive a vehicle that burns fuel, such as gasoline or diesel, the exhaust contains a complex mixture of gases. Many of these gases, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and more, can affect human health as well as the environment. It's worth thinking about this every time we turn our vehicle's ignition key.
Tailpipe emissions can be classified as Greenhouse Gases (GHG) or Criteria Air Contaminants (CAC). GHGs include carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), and methane (CH4). These emissions from light duty vehicles have recently been regulated in Canada.
CACs include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulphur oxides (SOx), volatile organic compounds (VOC), particulate matter (PM), and ammonia (NH 3). Light duty vehicle CACs are regulated in Canada and for more than 30 years have been subject to progressively more stringent standards. Today's vehicles produce about 99 per cent less CACs than vehicles built in the early 1970s.
Research shows that if each one of us adopted a few fuel-efficient driving techniques, we could prevent more than a thousand kilograms of CO2 from entering the atmosphere while also saving hundreds of dollars annually in fuel costs.
According to Natural Resources Canada, we can all help by:
• Driving less, and instead choosing to walk, cycle, use public transit, and carpool;
• Adopting fuel-efficient driving habits, such as: accelerating gently; maintaining a steady speed, anticipating traffic and coasting to decelerate;
• Purchasing a fuel-efficient automobile;
• Reducing our speed. For example, going from 100 to 120 kilometres/hour (km/h) burns 20 per cent more fuel;
• Maintaining proper tire pressure. Under-inflating tires by only eight psi (56 kPa) takes 10,000 km off the lifespan of the tire and can reduce your vehicle's fuel consumption by up to four per cent.
• Avoiding idling. If you're going to be stopped for more than 60 seconds – except in traffic – turn the engine off. The average vehicle wastes more than 250ml of fuel for every 10 minutes it idles.
More information on becoming fuel-conscious consumers is available at www.vehicles.gc.ca
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