Environmental impact of gasoline and diesel transportation and how OPTEC can help

Using natural resources

Gasoline is made from fossil fuels which is a non-renewable energy resource. Gasoline and diesel transportation is using our precious natural resources. Even the process of converting crude oil into gasoline has an effect.


Vehicles emit nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2), particulate matter (PM), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and smaller amounts of other pollutants such as sulphur dioxide (SO2) and ammonia (NH3).

Many of these emissions have a very harmful effect on the environment through the creation of smog, acidification, change in ecosystems, global warming, and the weakening of the ozone layer. Not only is this changing the world around us, the air pollution can have negative effects on our health.

What Causes Smog?

"Smog is produced by a set of complex photochemical reactions involving volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrogen oxides and sunlight, which form ground-level ozone.

In typical urban areas, at least half of the smog precursors come from cars, buses, trucks, and boats.

Major smog occurrences often are linked to heavy motor vehicle traffic, high temperatures, sunshine, and calm winds. Weather and geography affect the location and severity of smog. Because temperature regulates the length of time it takes for smog to form, smog can occur more quickly and be more severe on a hot, sunny day.

When temperature inversions occur (that is, when warm air stays near the ground instead of rising) and the wind is calm, smog may remain trapped over a city for days. As traffic and other sources add more pollutants to the air, the smog gets worse.

Ironically, smog is often more severe farther away from the sources of pollution, because the chemical reactions that cause smog take place in the atmosphere while pollutants are drifting on the wind.

NOx and Hydrocarbons are the main unnatural causes of smog. OPTEC greatly reduces both of these.

Who Is Most at Risk from Smog?

Anyone who engages in strenuous outdoor activity—from jogging to manual labor—may suffer smog-related health effects. Physical activity causes people to breathe faster and more deeply, exposing their lungs to more ozone and other pollutants. Four groups of people are particularly sensitive to ozone and other air pollutants in smog:

  • Children —Active children run the highest risks from exposure to smog, as children spend a lot of time playing outside. As a group, children are also more prone to asthma—the most common chronic disease for children—and other respiratory ailments than adults.
  • Adults who are active outdoors — Healthy adults of any age who exercise or work outdoors are considered at higher risk from smog.
  • People with respiratory diseases — People with asthma or other chronic respiratory diseases are more sensitive and vulnerable to the effects of ozone. Typically, they will experience adverse effects sooner and at lower levels of exposure than those who are less sensitive.
  • People with unusual susceptibility to ozone — Some otherwise healthy people are simply more sensitive to the pollutants in smog than other people, and may experience more adverse health effects from exposure.

Elderly people are often warned to stay indoors on heavy smog days. Elderly people are probably not at increased risk of adverse health effects from smog because of their age. Like any other adults, however, elderly people will be at higher risk from exposure to smog if they already suffer from respiratory diseases, are active outdoors, or are unusually susceptible to ozone."

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Hydrocarbons are compounds containing carbon and hydrogen only. The hydrocarbons involved in air pollution are gases (or those that are volatile) under ordinary conditions. The important sources of hydrocarbons in the natural environment are bacterial decomposition of organic matter, forest fires and vegetation. Incomplete combustion of gasoline fueled vehicles and industrial emissions account for 1/6 th of all hydrocarbons in atmosphere.

Hydrocarbons in air by themselves alone cause no harmful effects. However, they undergo chemical reactions in the presence of sunlight and nitrogen oxides. They form photochemical oxidants leading to photochemical smog. This causes irritation in the eyes and lungs leading to respiratory diseases.

Some aldehydes such as acrolin, formaldehyde, aromatic aldehydes have been detected in some areas with concentrations that may be toxic. They are produced due to incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons or by interaction of hydrocarbons with NO2 under the influence of sunlight. Many aldehydes are the precursors of peroxyacyl nitrates (PAN) and peroxy benzoyl nitrates (PBN) which act as photochemical oxidants.

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Carbon Dioxide CO2

"Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2013, CO2 accounted for about 82% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth's carbon cycle (the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals). Human activities are altering the carbon cycle—both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and by influencing the ability of natural sinks, like forests, to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.

The combustion of fossil fuels such as gasoline and diesel to transport people and goods is the second largest source of CO2 emissions, accounting for about 31% of total U.S. CO2 emissions and 26% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2013. This category includes transportation sources such as highway vehicles, air travel, marine transportation, and rail."

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U.S. Carrbon Dioxide Emission

Note: All emission estimates from theInventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2013

Why is this harmful?

Rising CO2 levels causes an enhanced greenhouse effect. This leads to warmer temperatures which has many consequences. Coast-bound communities are threatened by rising sea levels. Melting glaciers threaten the water supplies of hundreds of millions. Species are becoming extinct at the fastest rate in history. This is the leading cause of what scientists are calling global warming.

Carbon dioxide isn't only affecting the atmosphere. It has also made the oceans about 30 percent more acidic, affecting a wide variety of sea organisms. That percentage is also expected to rise in the coming years.

Carbon Dioxide Is measured in metric tons. One metric ton is equivalent to approximately 2,100 pounds.

"One metric ton of CO2 is released to the atmosphere for every 103 gallons of gasoline used. Using a car that gets 25 miles to the gallon, that’s just a bit more than 2,500 miles—about two months of driving for many Americans."

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fueleconomy.gov claims that no emission control device can actually reduce CO2 that one of the only ways to reduce it is to increase MPG and that CO2 emissions for vehicles is a simple mathematic equation based off each gallon of gasoline used.

How can OPTEC help?

OPTEC is reducing CO2 by our increasing MPG. To show the impact we can make, consider every gallon of gas= 20 pounds of Carbon Dioxide. This adds up with the above measurement that one metric ton equates to 103 gallons of gas.

To put this in perspective, if the average American drives 2,500 miles every two months in a car that gets 25 miles per gallon, and OPTEC increases it to 30 mpg, they would save 16.7 gallons every two months. That would be a savings of one metric ton of C02 per year for that one American driver.

Reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by choosing a car with better gas mileage.


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