WHAT DO WE BREATHE WHILE DRIVING A CAR?

In recent years, large cities have seen an increase in the incidence of chronic respiratory diseases: chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma and allergic rhinitis. Environmental scientists and doctors attribute this to the dramatic increase in the number of motor vehicles. The car is the main source of pollution of the natural environment. In order to participate in the preservation of the environment, it is enough to removing tires from rims for scrap.

Even a child knows this. Two million cars emit 32 thousand tons of harmful substances every day. But the environment… seems to be somewhere far away, outside the windshield, and here, in the cabin, you are completely safe. Not at all! Let’s have a look at the basic sources of car’s danger without spending frightening phrases in vain. To understand it Svetlana Aleksandrovna Savina, the technical director of Open Company “Ecology of life space” helped me.

Salon

The driver’s health can suffer not only from contaminated street air, getting into the interior through the ventilation system, but also from the substances, emitted from the materials and objects inside the car.

Therefore, when buying a new car, be interested not only in the external beauty of the car, but also in the composition of its interior upholstery and panels, as well as carefully read the labels when buying car care products and auto cosmetics. The most common substances released from polymeric interior trim materials are phenol, formaldehyde, xylene, solvents and other volatile compounds in paints, varnishes, enamels and adhesives.

Unfortunately, cars do not specify the full composition of finishing materials and paints used for the cabin, so there are many “surprises”: phenol in the trim and seat filler, aromatic hydrocarbons, xylene and toluene from paint materials, aromatic compounds from artificial leather interior, aldehydes, amines, acetone, chlorides from synthetic fabrics.

Choosing a car, you should check it for pungent odors and their accumulation in the cabin. It is desirable to sit in a closed car with the engine turned on and off, then air out the salon and trace the time of odor accumulation. If in 15-20 minutes after airing the smell again became strong, then most likely the interior materials are not of high quality.

It is important to choose quality car care products. You should pay attention to those types of liquids whose vapors can enter the passenger compartment, such as windshield washer fluid. Because of inadequate monitoring of the composition of these fluids, they often contain methanol.

In the form of vapors, it causes mucous membrane irritation, dizziness, pain, and even seizures. Therefore, you should check the composition on the label and avoid methanol-containing fluids. Methanol-based windshield washer fluids have been banned since 2000. It is better to use fluids based on ethanol, they are less toxic. Isopropanol-based fluids often have a very strong fragrance to interrupt the acetone odor of isopropanol.

To avoid toxic emissions, it’s important to store “auto hygiene” products properly: uncovered canister caps can increase concentrations of harmful substances in cabin air by several times.

Did a coward invent brakes?

During braking, brake pads emit a whole “bouquet” of harmful chemicals and dust: copper, vanadium, zinc, molybdenum, nickel and chromium. And inhaling asbestos, also part of the pads, often leads to cancer.

Lead, used in the manufacture of friction pads, is no less dangerous. But most harmful to human health is phenol, released at the moment of prolonged or abrupt braking from the heated pads, when the temperature of the disk and pads reaches eight hundred degrees. Filters have been invented to keep all these harmful fumes from seeping inside the car.

They do help, but only if the salon is completely sealed from the outside air. The frequency of filter replacement depends on their specifications.

Some people believe that such technological marvels as an air conditioner and ionizer will clean the saloon air. It is a delusion! Air conditioner simply cools the incoming air, it can be the saloon air or the street air with all admixtures.

And it is better not to use the ionizer in the car at all. Ionization of polluted air is additional harm to your health! Ionization causes formation of complex, more harmful substances from simple, less harmful ones. Only ionized pure air is useful. But can it be in the car?

Don’t pull the rubber!

But still, the main “supplier” of carcinogens to the environment – who would have thought it! – are not exhaust fumes, as is commonly believed, but car tires. Actually, tires and rubber parts are not dangerous in themselves.

However, the wear and tear of the tires on and near the surface of the road deposits large amounts of dust, which destroys our lungs and other organs as well. About 60% of the particles produced by tire tread wear and released into the air easily penetrate the respiratory tract and cause allergic reactions, bronchial asthma, and in contact with mucous membranes and skin – conjunctivitis, rhinitis and urticaria.

When braking, car tires also emit products that ruin human health: benzene, xylene, styrene, toluene; carbon disulfide, formaldehyde, phenols; sulfur oxides and other toxic substances with complex and frightening names. Up to 120 substances harmful to living organisms. And now imagine: in a city like Moscow, several hundred tons of tire dust per hour are emitted into the atmosphere, mostly deposited on and near highways.

The fine rubber dust stays on the surface of the pavement and on the soil for a long time. In dry weather, it rises into the air and flies straight into our respiratory organs – whether we decide to walk along the side of the Moscow Ring Road or want to drive a car. By the way, such tire dust stays in the body for a long time.

The amount of tire dust formed also depends not only on the quality of tires, but also on the proper adjustment of the car’s chassis, driving style, compliance with operating rules, etc. Much less tire dust is produced when the tread is worn evenly. Studies have shown that one of the most significant sources of undesirable processes is the rolling resistance of tires. As tires age, the amount of dust increases.

Cleaner ride – farther away?

When buying windshield washer fluid, look carefully at the label: it must not contain methanol (commonly known as methyl alcohol)! This is a dangerous poisonous substance, so recently, as mentioned earlier, it is forbidden by the Ministry of Health for use in Russia.

Inhalation of methanol vapours causes irritation of mucous membranes, dizziness, pain, convulsions. If ingested, it causes severe, life-threatening poisoning, and those who survive can lose their vision due to damage to the optic nerve.

It turns out that most of the low-liquid car windshield washer fluids are made with methyl alcohol! Unscrupulous manufacturers simply do not indicate its presence on a label. Methanol content may be up to 30% of fluid volume.

The fact is that manufacturers often produce these liquids using their own technologies from the most available raw materials. If you cannot afford harmless products for some reasons, you had better fill washer tank with “cocktail” of cheap vodka and any detergent.

According to the Labor Medicine Research Institute, which conducted a study to determine methanol vapor concentrations in a car in which poor quality antifreeze was used, while stationary the concentration of vapors exceeded the maximum allowable concentration 7 times! When driving, the indicators improved, but not much. In such conditions, headache and absent-mindedness become constant companions of a driver.

Use only certified products in the operation of the car, corresponding to the established documentation, choose liquids, which have a label showing the factory-manufacturer and date of manufacture.

Noise

Motor vehicles, as well as railroads, are the main source of noise in large cities. And it is a problem not only for roadside residents, but also for the drivers themselves. Noise level in automobile transport is 72-92 dB. By the way, at 50 dB the time to fall asleep increases by an hour or more.

After such noise background of the day you are unlikely to get a good and quality sleep. In such cases, after waking up, people feel tired, headache, and often a rapid heartbeat. Regular lack of proper rest does not allow the body to recover from the working day, and as a result leads to chronic fatigue – one of the most common causes of many diseases.

In addition, constant fatigue has a negative impact on a person’s ability to safely operate a car.

You can reduce the damage of road noise by insulating your car or reducing the vibration of the car. Using a straight-through muffler is also undesirable: it intensifies the low-frequency noise, which affects the human nervous system.

Gas sector

And one must not forget about the exhaust gases. The combustion of gasoline, which is the fuel used by most private cars, releases more than 200 toxic products! The most harmful of them are carbon and nitrogen oxides, organic compounds (formaldehyde, benzpyrene, phenol) and heavy metals.

In Russia, only the content of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons in the exhaust gases is regulated, and for diesel cars – the smokiness (soot).

The fact is that the concentration of harmful emissions is greatest at a height of 50-150 cm from the ground surface, that is, just at the level of the human respiratory organs. Carbon monoxide (or carbon monoxide) has no color or odor, so a person may not feel its presence in the air even at lethal concentrations.

Carbon monoxide forms a strong bond with hemoglobin, depriving it of its ability to carry oxygen through organs and tissues, which can lead to oxygen deprivation, which primarily affects the brain. The first signs of poisoning: headache, heaviness in the head, weakness, slowed reaction of the driver, dizziness, nausea, vomiting. In more severe cases, you may even lose consciousness.

Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon in the fuel. Its high concentration in the vehicle cabin – something careless drivers sometimes forget, turning on the engine to warm up and falling asleep after stopping for a night out of town – even short-term exposure can lead to death. In a single-car garage, lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide occur as early as two to three minutes after the starter is turned on.

Even in clear weather when driving on a busy highway, the air seems foggy and the cloudless sky is not blue, but rather gray. The main cause of urban smog is nitrogen oxides from the combustion of any fuel – natural gas, coal, gasoline or fuel oil.

They irritate the respiratory organs and eyes and can cause chronic lung disease. At intersections and traffic lights, as well as when standing in traffic, the emissions of these substances are several times greater than when driving on the highway. This is the cause of many chronic diseases. At critical concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, e.g. in enclosed spaces (garages), there is pulmonary edema, leading to death.

And, of course, heavy metals. The gasoline produced in Russia still contains lead compounds. Their main danger is not only that they are carcinogenic, but also that they accumulate in the body in dangerous concentrations.

Studies in the United States have shown that before leaded gasoline was banned in urbanized areas with high concentrations of exhaust gases, there was a clear decline in the intelligence quotient of children. And the reason for this is lead fumes. Scientists note that heavy metals, especially lead, are very densely concentrated along highways, exceeding background levels by 10-20 times and maintaining an elevated background up to 120 meters from these highways.

So it’s time to switch to bicycles and go live outside the city. Of course, that’s impossible, you’ll object. Sometimes without a car is like without hands. I agree. But still try to be as safe as possible, sitting behind the wheel of your favorite “horse. If you paraphrase Socrates, you can say about the car: “The car is my friend, but my health is dearer!”

For the good of your health it is also important to have your car serviced in time, timely replacement of worn parts, fluids, oils, filters, etc.

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