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Car-Free Day : The Weight of Cars in Air Quality

credit : confinement may 2020 by @Laurentsacco

On September 27, 2020, in many European cities, the streets will be returned to pedestrians and cyclists. Thus, the city of Paris will close its streets to motorists. According to the Airparif association, which measures the levels pollution in cities, nitrogen dioxide levels fell by 40% in certain areas of Paris during the car-free day in 2015. There was nearly a third less nitrogen dioxide pollution on the Champs-Élysées yet as lively as a usual Sunday. Along the Seine in the city center, levels have dropped by around 40%. On the bustling Place de l'Opéra, pollution rates were lowered by 20%. This new car-free day is an opportunity to show the levels of air pollution caused by cars and its consequences on our health.

How does the car contribute to air pollution?

Air pollution is caused by solid and liquid particles and certain gases suspended in the air. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the main major sectors of the world economy contributing to CO2 emissions are the following :

  • Heat and electricity production (25%)
  • Agriculture, forestry and land use (24%)
  • Industry (21%)
  • Transportation (14%)
  • Other energy production (10%)
  • Buildings (6%)

Indeed, the main causes of air pollution are related to the ignition of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas). The combustion of these raw materials is produced mainly by the industrial sector and transport earthly. In addition, exhaust fumes from factories and manufacturing industries release large amounts of carbon monoxide,, hydrocarbons, organic compounds and chemicals into the air, which depletes air quality.

Finally, automobiles contribute to air pollution through combustion engine vehicle exhaust gases, wear of brakes and tires, road surfaces as well as the resuspension of dust present on vehicles. roads. In France, on average, each car emits nearly 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, and is still the main source of French CO2 emissions today. According to the European Environment Agency, the contribution of automobiles to fine particle emissions in Europe amounts to 11% (valid for PM10: particles with a diameter equal to or less than 10 micrometers and PM2.5: diameter equal to or less than 2.5 µm).

Are electric cars an alternative to this pollution?

Electric cars seem increasingly attractive in a world where reducing carbon emissions is a growing concern. Indeed, without exhaust fumes, electric cars produce no emission of carbon dioxide when driving. This greatly reduces air pollution. In one year, an electric car can save an average of 1.5 million grams of CO2.

However, car pollutant emissions that are not related to the exhaust are common to all cars, (wear of brakes and tires, road surfaces) and objectively contribute to air pollution. On the other hand, electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries which require a lot of energy to be produced.

Overexposure to pollutants in the vehicle interior

Pollutant levels are often higher inside cars because they absorb emissions from surrounding vehicles and recirculate them. Researchers from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (Inserm) have shown that almost half of the pollutants inside cars come from the vehicles immediately in front of them , especially if these vehicles are big polluters, like diesel trucks. Pollutants enter the passenger compartment through air vents and other openings, as vehicles are not designed to be airtight. In addition, according to a study by the Paris Hygiene Laboratory (LHVP), the car's interior exceeds the permissible threshold for exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Indeed, paints, varnishes, glues, carpets and rugs produce many VOCs, which can be a source of irritation to the skin and mucous membranes.

The exhaust gas vehicles are a cocktail of dangerous pollutants made up of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3). At ground level, ozone is toxic. Ozone is the main component of smog and is a major lung irritant. An exhibition in the long term can cause asthma and lead to serious and permanent structural damage to the lungs. In addition, carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and fine particles (PM2.5) can be hazardous to health.

Pollution inside a car stuck in heavy traffic is up to 40% higher than when the traffic is flowing. A study published in the journal Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts found that the Pollution levels were seven times higher inside a car stuck in traffic with the windows open than in pedestrians standing at a crossroads.

What solutions to fight against this indoor pollution?

By following these simple steps you can help reduce your exposure to pollution in the car: Avoid deodorants and air fresheners; they contain a lot of harmful VOCs and deteriorate the air quality, instead of improving it. Keep the interior of your car clean. Pollutants in cars can combine with dust particles and be inhaled. Avoid chemical cleaners and use a microfiber cloth instead. Avoid rush hour, traffic jams and tunnels as much as possible, and do not smoke inside the car.

Choose an air purifier

TEQOYA air purifiers make it possible to directly treat pollution inside the passenger compartment, without ozone or undesirable effects. The car air ionizer TEQOYA Tip4 accompanies you and provides clean air in your vehicle. Filter-free and eco-friendly, it effectively fights against pollutants, cigarette smoke and odors in the cabin.

During the making of this video, air pollution reaches a threshold of 1700 particles less than 0.3 µg in the passenger compartment. After 10 minutes, pollution in the passenger compartment was divided by 7 to reach 129 particles below 0.3 µg.

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