Many people are worried about car emissions and rightly so, good clean air is important. But emission tests typically check two pollutants which are hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. Newer tests include checking for oxides of nitrogen but they should also look at the emissions control system on the vehicle too.
Without a doubt, carbon monoxide is the most deadly. This is because you are unable to smell it and it is certainly not visible. Never take it for granted that carbon monoxide is not present. It is important to know that even only 0.5% can make you lose consciousness. Carbon monoxide is a killer and at the very least can cause headaches even if only exposed to the tiniest amount.
If you are not sure how it is formed, it simply means that insufficient oxygen is available to burn off the rich fuel. High emissions will indicate that there may be problems caused by the carburetor – perhaps a faulty sensor, clogged air filter, or fuel injection problem. It is highest when you first start the engine and this is because the fuel is much richer than it is normally.
Hydrocarbon emissions are the vapors of oil and gasoline – unburned. These emissions may not harm you directly but they do contribute to ozone pollution. With hydrocarbons in the atmosphere, they begin to react with the sunlight and these then begin to form compounds that can irritate the throat, lungs and eyes.
Nitrogen which, although is in the air that we breathe, can combine with oxygen and ultimately form oxides of nitrogen. It can cause lung irritations as well as irritating the eyes and nose. If there are high concentrations, it can cause actual lung disorders. When in the atmosphere, it forms ozone after reacting with oxygen. This then forms toxic smog. Catalytic converters were introduced in the 1990’s which served to reduce oxides of nitrogen and to also reburn carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon.
It is important to understand emissions and to ensure that your car is tested to meet the current standards.