Clean Cars Campaign

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Vehicles, Air Pollution and Public Health

Global Warming and Smog

Mobile vs. Stationary

More Cars, More Miles, More Pollution

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Why Clean Cars?

Why clean cars? Because people—and our planet—are literally choking.

We need to clean up our act. We need to cut air pollution and emissions that cause global warming to improve quality of life for everyone today and ensure a safer world for our kids.

We love our cars, but they're a big part of the problem.

Vehicles, Air Pollution and Public Health

Motor vehicles are major sources of emissions that cause smog and fine-particle soot. They are also big sources of toxic chemicals that can cause cancer.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 150 million Americans live in areas that violate public health standards for ozone, smog, or fine particle soot. Both ozone and fine particle soot have been linked to a range of public health problems, including asthma attacks, increased emergency room visits and premature death.

The EPA has also noted that people who live or work near major roads or who spend a large amount of time in vehicles are likely to have a higher risk of developing cancer than other Americans because they are exposed to high levels of cancer-causing chemicals like benzene from motor vehicles.

Global Warming and Smog

Hot summer days are getting hotter because of global warming, but there's another problem. The Natural Resources Defense Council has found that higher temperatures would also mean more summertime smog.

The NRDC report, "Heat Advisory: How Global Warming Causes More Bad Air Days," presents a comprehensive analysis by medical experts at the Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, University at Albany-SUNY, Yale University and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The analysis finds that people living in the eastern United States could see the average number of unhealthy air days during summer increase from 12 days to 20 days by the middle of the century. Pollen levels could also increase. Higher levels of smog and allergens would mean more asthma attacks, more hospitalizations, and more children told they can't play outdoors.

Mobile vs. Stationary

Cars, SUVs and pickup trucks account for more than one-fifth of smog-forming nitrogen oxides nationally. That's roughly comparable to the pollution spewed out by all of the nation's coal-burning electric power companies.

Motor vehicles are the nation's second-biggest source of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions. Electric power plants are the biggest.

More Cars, More Miles, More Pollution

According to the U.S. EPA, vehicle miles traveled increased 178 percent between 1970 and 2005. This increase in driving has offset many of the benefits of federal motor vehicle pollution standards. In addition, in the past decade, more people have bought and now drive sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks. These vehicles typically produce more heat-trapping global warming emissions.

And even though we have reduced emissions overall of such conventional pollutants as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, global warming emissions from motor vehicles have increased.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has projected that global warming pollution from motor vehicles will continue to increase in the next quarter-century unless we curb motor vehicle emissions.

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