Traffic congestion is something that many people have come to expect as part of their daily routine. Most of these people do not consider the impact that this congestion is having on the environment. There are a number of ways that traffic congestion is affecting the environment and it is important that you know about this.
Car pollution is one of the major factors behind global warming and traffic congestion increases this pollution. When cars are stuck in traffic they are constantly accelerating and stopping. The problem with this is that accelerating from a stop will burn more fuel than traveling a long distance. When cars burn fuel, they will emit carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses.
Greenhouse gasses will become trapped in the atmosphere and has caused a worldwide rise in temperatures. Of course, it is important to note that without greenhouse gasses the world would be covered in ice, but car emissions have increased these gasses too much. Warmer temperatures will have a major impact on sea levels, farming and wildlife.
Air, Soil And Water
The effects of car pollution are widespread and affect all aspects of the environment from the air to the water and the soil. Nitrous oxide which is produced by cars in traffic is known as one of the contributors to the depletion of the ozone layer. This is a major issue as the ozone layer is our natural protection from the harmful UV rays and depletion will allow more of these rays to reach the surface of the Earth.
Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide are also produced by cars and will mix with rainwater. This is the mixture which creates acid rain which is known to damage forests, crops, building and other vegetation. Oil and fuel spills from vehicles that are stuck in traffic can enter the soil and this will contaminate it. There are also times when these traffic by-products enter the water and contaminate the rivers, lakes and wetlands.
The Effect On Human Health
The effect of traffic congestion does not only relate to the environment, it also has an impact on human health. Car pollutants which are greater when there is traffic, are known to cause health problems in humans. Particle matter, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons all affect human health in a negative manner and all increase when vehicles are stuck in traffic.
Diesel engines will emit higher levels of certain particulate matter which is able to cause skin and eye irritation. Very fine particles will be able to enter the lungs and this can cause a range of respiratory problems. Hydrocarbons will react with nitrogen dioxide and sunlight to form ozone which is actually harmful when it is found at ground level.
Ozone at ground level can inflame the lungs which causes coughing, chest pains and difficulty breathing. Carbon monoxide, another gas often found during traffic, is very dangerous to the elderly and infants as it can interfere with the blood’s ability to transport oxygen.