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Car Pollutants And Electric Cars: Really That Green?

Have you ever considered your exposure to pollutants in your car?  Most of us spend a lot of time in our cars, whether it’s on our way to work or during leisure time.   What many of us don’t realize is that pollutants are often higher in our cars than outside on the road. In fact, did you know that the “new car smell” is actually a cocktail of chemicals?
One of the main reasons that pollutant levels are higher inside cars is because cars take in emissions from other vehicles and recirculate them.  Research shows that levels of some pollutants can be 10 times higher inside vehicles than outside. Some of the chemicals include formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene- all of which are suspected carcinogens.  Your in-car pollution levels depend on some of the following factors: the age of your car, driving speed, ventilation, traffic congestion, and types of vehicles in your vicinity.
So, what can you do to lower your exposure to in-car pollutants?  

​Here are some helpful tips:

  • Set your air conditioner to use recirculated air, when traffic is congested.
  • When possible, travel on less congested roads.
  • Be mindful when opening and closing your car windows and vents.  Keep windows closed when in areas of high traffic, and open windows at least a crack when in low to no traffic.  
  • When driving, keep ample distance from other vehicles when possible, especially diesel trucks or cars that are obviously polluting; pull to the side, if possible, to allow them to leave your general area.
  • Keep up with car maintenance.  
  • If you have a new car, try to drive on less congested roads and keep the windows open as much as possible for the first few months; this is the time in which vapors are highest from chemicals applied to the interior.
  • Do not use air fresheners or deodorizers.
  • Never smoke in your car or allow others to smoke in your car.
  • Clean your car frequently with all-natural products, or simply a damp rag.  This is important because pollutants can combine with dust particles and be inhaled.  
  • Don’t rely on air-filtration systems such as carbon filters.  While they can be helpful in reducing exposure to allergens, they are not effective at removing finer particles, chemicals, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants.  
In general, there is only so much you can do to limit your exposure to car pollutants.  The real area where change is needed is in energy efficiency. This brings up the topic of electric cars.  How green are they?
Well, the answer is a bit complicated.  And technically, it depends on where you live.  For instance, in Norway (which is the world leader in electric car use), the vehicles are clean because they are mostly run on hydropower.  However, electric cars in the US are still powered by dirty fossil fuels. Essentially, electric cars are being powered from the same fuel as petrol cars, but burn less of it.  In general, electric cars are responsible for less greenhouse gas and other emissions that result from combustion engines.
The takeaway is that we still need to move away from fossil fuels.  Electric cars are better than combustion vehicles, but additional improvements are needed for our health and health of our planet. 

Edye's Naturals keeps your health and the health of the planet in mind.  Choose Edye's Naturals to be part of your healthy lifestyle. 

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