Exhaust fumes, also known as vehicle emissions, are the byproducts of combustion in the engines of vehicles that use fossil fuels such as gasoline or diesel.
So, when fuel is burned in the engine, a variety of gases and particles are released into the air through the exhaust system and these pollutants are harmful to both human health and the environment.
Gases in Exhaust Fumes:
Typically, there are five gases in exhaust fumes. They are :
1. Carbon monoxide (CO): This gas is produced by the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, such as gasoline or diesel. It is toxic to humans and animals and can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, especially if inhaled in high concentrations.
2.Nitrogen oxides (NOx): These gases are produced when nitrogen in the air reacts with oxygen at high temperatures in the engine’s combustion chamber. They contribute to smog and acid rain .
3.Hydrocarbons (HC): These are unburned or partially burned fuel molecules that are released into the atmosphere. Hence, they contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, a major component of smog.
4.Particulate matter (PM): They are tiny particles of solid or liquid matter that are released into the air. More than often, they lead to respiratory problems in humans and contribute to haze and other forms of air pollution.
5.Carbon dioxide (CO2): This gas is a product of complete fuel combustion and is the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.
Do these fumes have a smell ?
Exhaust fumes can have a variety of smells depending on the type of fuel being burned and the condition of the engine.
Some common smells associated with it include a pungent, burning odor, a sweet, fruity smell, or a strong, acrid scent.
Also, the odor may be noticeable as a distinct smell or may simply smell like “gasoline” or “car exhaust.”
What do they do to the body?
When inhaled, they can have a number of adverse effects on the body;
Carbon monoxide is one of the most dangerous components of exhaust fumes. When inhaled, it binds to hemoglobin in the blood and reduces the amount of oxygen that can be carried to the body’s organs and tissues.
This can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion, and in severe cases, can lead to unconsciousness, coma, or even death.
Nitrogen oxides, which are also present in exhaust fumes, can irritate the lungs and cause respiratory problems. Particularly, in people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Sulfur dioxide, another common component of exhaust fumes, can also irritate the lungs and cause respiratory symptoms.
Particulate matter, which consists of tiny particles of soot and other substances, can be inhaled deep into the lungs. Leading to a range of health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and heart disease.
Exposure to exhaust fumes over a long period of time has also been linked to an increased risk of cancer, particularly lung cancer.
Limiting Inhalation of Exhaust Fumes;
Inhalation of exhaust fumes can be harmful as highlighted above. Therefore, it’s important to take steps to limit exposure to them. Here are some ways to do that :
1.Avoid areas with heavy traffic: When possible, try to avoid areas with heavy traffic, especially during rush hour. If you must be in such an area, try to stay upwind of the traffic.
2.Use ventilation: If you’re inside a car, make sure that the ventilation system is working properly. Also be sure that the air is being recirculated. Whereas, if you’re in a building, ensure that the ventilation system is functioning well, and that it’s filtering the air effectively.
3.Stay away from idling vehicles: Try to stay away from vehicles that are idling. If you’re waiting for someone in a car, turn off the engine rather than leaving it running.
4.Wear a mask: Wearing a mask can help filter out some of the harmful pollutants in exhaust fumes. Look for a mask that is specifically designed to filter out particulate matter. Shop here cheaply.
5.Exercise caution when using gas-powered tools: If you’re using gas-powered tools. For example, a lawn mower or a chainsaw, make sure that you’re using them in a well-ventilated area.
6.Plant trees and shrubs : Planting trees and shrubs can help absorb some of the pollutants from exhaust fumes. Besides, creating a barrier between you and the traffic.
7.Maintain your vehicle: Keeping your vehicle in good working order can help to reduce the amount of exhaust it produces. Make sure that you’re getting regular tune-ups, and that you’re using the correct type of fuel.
Read also : Understanding asthma, simplified!
Till next time,