Environmental pollution remains a major challenge in the world today. While several strides have been made with regard to environmental waste management, it is believed that a lot has to be done to realize a safe and sustainable environment, with a significant number of pollutants emanating from petroleum products.
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Research indicates that the United States consumes approximately 26% of the world’s petroleum even though it produces only 10% of the total petroleum annually. Importantly, automobiles consume up to 43% of petroleum, emerging as the world’s leading single consumer (EPA, 1994). Automobiles generally refer to all moving machines that burn gas. They include but not limited to boats, cars, motorcycles and trucks.
Even though emissions from individual cars might be considered to be negligible, most cities are finding car emissions to be the greatest single pollutant of the environment. This is as a result of millions of personal cars owned in the world today. From the mechanical functioning of these cars, their movement is made possible as a result of burning fuel, a process, which leads to the emission of several pollutants into the environment (Klepal, 2004).
These pollutants are emitted due to the inability to have a perfect combustion process that would involve the breakdown of hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide in the presence of oxygen. Common gasoline pollutants include nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and other evaporative emissions.
Hydrocarbon emissions occur because of incomplete or imperfect combustion of fuel molecules. Chemically, hydrocarbons generate ground-level ozone when they react with nitrogen oxides in air. Noteworthy, ground-level smog is highly responsible for the formation of smog. Ozone is equally dangerous; it causes health problems like cancer, respiratory difficulties, irritation of eyes and damages lungs (EPA, 1994). This has become the commonest air pollutant in urban areas.
As mentioned above, nitrogen oxides equally constitute to gasoline pollutants and are sometimes denoted as NOx. These oxides form when nitrogen and oxygen are combined under elevated temperature and pressure. Similarly, nitrogen oxides lead to the formation of ozone, which has an array of effects especially on human health.
Apart from ozone, NOx are also responsible for the formation of acid rain, which occurs when NOx react with water to form nitrous acids (EPA, 1994). Acid rain causes corrosion of cars and iron roofs. It has also been blamed for some health complications like skin cancer.
Oxides of carbon are also major gasoline pollutants, which have remained harmful to the environment. For example, carbon monoxide forms when carbon is partially oxidized during combustion in automobile engines (WBPCB, 2004).
Exposure to carbon monoxide has been found to be fatal. It is highly associated with the inhibition of the flow of oxygen in the bloodstream, a condition that may result into suffocation and instant death. This is a health hazard especially to people who have heart-related problems. Similarly, carbon dioxide is a gasoline pollutant, which has turned out to be lethal to the environment.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CO2 is a product of perfect combustion in automobile engines and poses major environmental threats today. Although carbon dioxide does not affect human beings directly, it falls into the category of greenhouse gases and is a key cause of global warming (Klepal, 2004). It therefore follows that automobiles greatly contribute to today’s environmental pollution issues.
EPA. (1994). Automobile Emissions: An Overview. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/
Klepal, D. (2004). Auto pollution increases health risks. Enquirer. Web.
WBPCB. (2004). Automobile Pollution. West Bengal Pollution Control Board. Web.