Clean vehicles – the way forward

low emission vehicleExactly who invented the first car is a subject of severe debate, but one thing is for sure is that there was huge excitement that went with the car when it became available to the mass market.

This level of excitement has rarely been equaled in recent history. When the car became accessible and affordable to the man (or woman) on the street, lives were changed forever. Families were suddenly able to travel independently, to explore areas that were previously out of their reach; taking trips to the seaside, the countryside and generally extending their minds and their experiences. But not everything associated with the car was positive.

A society that was accustomed to walking or biking short distances suddenly sat behind the wheel to travel those short distances. Small, specialist shops that populated and animated our high streets were slowly replaced by big, impersonal out of town supermarkets and shopping centres that we visited in droves by car. The high street started to close down and this trend has continued, with insult being added to injury by online shopping (which is a completely separate subject).

The car also became a status symbol, not just a way of getting from A to B. People were judged on the basis of the four wheels they owned and drove. Obesity rose because kids no longer walked or biked to school, but much more than all that, we were all involuntarily forced into inhaling the emissions of all these vehicles on the road.

The emissions that come from cars and lorries on our roads affect all of us and can lead to respiratory issues, cardiovascular symptoms and cancers. There is significant evidence to suggest that people who live near major roads are more likely to suffer from these illnesses than people who live further away from significant traffic. The main issues are associated with Nitrogen Oxides, Carbon Monoxide, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Fine Particular Matter and Ground-level Ozone, all of which have a detrimental effect on health.

Nitrogen Oxides are known to attack the lungs and irritate the respiratory system generally. Carbon Monoxide on the other hand (in quantity) hampers the blood’s ability to carry oxygen around the body. VOCs, which are present in a whole host of modern-day products vary in toxicity, but contain certain substances that are cancer causing when they are in the atmosphere in any great amount. When it comes to Fine Particulate Matter, its very nature means that it can be inhaled deep into the lungs and will aggravate any already present respiratory or cardiovascular problems as well as having the potential to be carcinogenic.

It’s easy to see from this list that although we typically can’t see any of these things with the naked eye, they have the potential to affect us, to affect our children and if the situation doesn’t change, their children and their children’s children too. It is for all of these reasons, not to mention the cost of fuel, that clean vehicles simply have to be the way forward and something we can’t ignore.