The Impact of Car Exhaust Emissions on Your Health

The world is slowly moving away from fossil fuels and towards hybrid and electric vehicles on the roads. It’s a great step in the right direction, hopefully insuring the children inherit a slightly better world than the one this generation created, all while breaking the United State’s addiction to petroleum and improving the environment one increment at a time. But there is another, very real reason to push gas guzzlers off the road: emissions. Car exhaust emissions don’t just endanger the earth, but those that live on it as well. You can see its effect hanging in the air over major cities, that grayish, yellowish cloud that just looks sick. Well, it looks just like what it causes. The emissions from your car exhaust contain literally hundreds of toxins, and carbon monoxide may be the mildest one. Here is a quick look at the impact of car exhaust emissions on your health.

Car exhaust doesn’t just dissipate into the air. As with any microscopic particle, your lungs take it in along with the air itself. Once inside your body, substances such as benzene, lead, ozone, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide stick to your lungs, and pass through those permeable sacs into your bloodstream. That transfer sends the substances through to every corner of your body. But they do the most damage to your vital organs. Levels of the toxic substances grow over time, and in the long term can cause major harm and even lead to death. According to several reputable studies, tens of thousands of deaths every year can be directly attributed to car exhaust emissions.

So what are the exact effects you can expect from this exposure? That can range greatly depending on your overall health. But short term exposure can leave you tired, nauseous and dealing with recurring headaches. Over the course of your lifetime, these small results can add up to actual changes in behavior, reduced brain function, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and even cancer.

Certain groups have a higher risk of problems due to these emissions. Children are one of the most hard hit groups. According to major medical institutions, millions of American children live within areas that are out of the healthy range of ozone standards. This could be contributing to the increase in childhood asthma cases seen today. Emissions may contribute to the initial onset of asthma, and will always impact those with asthma, leading to constriction of airways and allergy attacks.

Exhaust emissions are also trouble for the elderly. As you age, your risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular disease are all elevated. Since emissions contribute to the development of each of these conditions, living in a region with significant vehicle emissions can increase the chance you will fall prey to one of these diseases. Elderly people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are in serious risk, and overall mortality rates increase in these areas.

Motor vehicles aren’t going away any time soon. But just as car insurance is necessary, so is it crucial that you monitor your exposure to car exhaust emissions. If you work in an environment where emissions are frequently in the air, such as a dock, farm, mine or auto garage, you should take precautions to limit your exposure. And if you have one of the conditions listed above, you might want to consider moving out of a high traffic area if at all possible.