Automobiles can cause many different kinds of pollution in the environment. Air, health and groundwater pollution are of the most common. The reasons for these problems can be contributed to exhaust systems and light switches that are standard equipment on most cars today.
Older and newer cars alike are equipped with a catalytic converter system. Which are supposed to convert hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides into harmless materials emitted from the automobiles engine. According to Robert Harley, when nitrogen oxide from the engines exhaust is over- reduced, a complex chemical reaction ensues. Ammonia gas (NH3) forms in the catalytic converter, which is then emitted from the vehicles tailpipe and released into the air. These ammonia gasses are the cause of haze and may also cause serious health problems. The catalytic converter not only hurts but also helps the environment. Automobiles that have this system on them produce close to 50% less hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and other gasses. (Converters 1) Which in the long run helps the ozone from depleting even more than it has already.
Another problem we face is having vehicles with mercury light switches in the trunk and hood. Mercury is a fluid metallic element that is toxic and can cause various health problems, air and groundwater pollution also. Ford is one of the automobile companies that still use mercury in light switches and certain antilock brake components. The mercury becomes a problem only after vehicles containing it are taken to a junkyard and destroyed. When these vehicles are destroyed the mercury seeps out into the environment and is absorbed into the ground eventually to make its way in to our water supplies. While in the water it can contaminate the fish that in turn we end up eating. Another way the mercury makes it way into the environment is during the process of melting the vehicles in steel furnaces where the mercury vaporizes into the air. (Mercury 1) These particles then can act as a contribution to global warming.
Ford has been urged to remove these mercury switches and replace them with a ball bearing switch that costs about 38 cents in all vehicles that are brought in for service, repair, or recall. As of right now Ford has no plans of removing these mercury switches in any of its serviced vehicles. But Ford is currently working with the Alliance of Automobile Manufactures and the Association of International Automobile Manufactures and waste-management directors to eliminate and replace the switches containing mercury in their upcoming vehicles. (Mercury 2) If Ford and other car companies that use mercury switches decide to do this it can eliminate up to 2.5 tons of mercury from our environment.
The problems of automobile pollution mentioned above are only a small portion of the pollution problems we face from automobiles. Many people wonder how these and many other problems that automobiles cause can be fixed, and many have come up with possible solutions. But only a few of the solutions are actually practical. I think we should abolish gas burning engines and start using electrical vehicles. This would eliminate all of the pollution problems. Electric vehicles were once thought to only be a futuristic fantasy, but recently have become a reality. These vehicles are a very environmentally friendly replacement for older gas burning automobiles. Electric vehicles do not require tune-ups or oil changes. These vehicles also dont emit any ozone depleting gasses and or fumes. Making them a perfect remedy for the already hurting environment. As of right now the idea of an electric car is still in it works and the common gas burning automobile will be around for many more years to come.
All we can do is hope that one day that someone will come with a vehicle that is environmentally safe and can help eliminate these problems that automobiles cause today.
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