Air quality is an issue that greatly concerns me. I am especially concerned about the long-term effect of breathing in toxins emitted in vehicle tailpipe exhaust. My husband and I recently traveled down a two-lane road behind a truck that enveloped our car in a cloud of thick black smoke from its tailpipe each time the driver stepped on the gas. It was so bad that we had to turn off the ventilation system to avoid breathing in the fumes.
I see the same scenario repeated all the time with the city buses that spew smoke each time they pull away from a stoplight or a bus stop. But it wasn’t until I saw a group of high-school students walking home after school that I decided it was time to speak up. As bad as it was for us inside of our car, it was impossible for the teens to avoid walking through the thick cloud of exhaust from the truck going by.
If pollutants were discovered in our local drinking water, we could buy bottled water until the problem was resolved. With the air we breathe, it’s different. We don’t have a choice. Many people don’t realize just how polluted their local air may be, because the exhaust given off by cars, trucks, buses, leaf blowers, and other gasoline-powered equipment is loaded with microparticles that are simply too small for us to see. Our bodies are neither equipped to filter them out of the air we breathe nor able to expel them from our lungs, where they remain forever, impairing breathing and even causing heart disease. We need higher standards for machine-generated air pollution that will significantly reduce these deadly particle emissions. Our health and well-being are at stake.