As congestion increases within our cities, more and more Canadians are looking for ways to combat the effects of smog and pollution. Drivers have the opportunity to make a real difference through simple, everyday changes. For anyone who wants to get there the “green” way, buses are an obvious choice. Taking the bus to work is a great start, but coaches can also be a fun, responsible solution for special events and occasions. Many might be surprised to learn that travelling as a group reduces air pollution. By considering eco-friendly travel options, we can make a positive impact for our neighbours and for generations to come.
Start by considering the many ways in which group travel reduces smog. Carpooling is growing in popularity; bus travel offers similar environmental benefits on an even greater scale. Fewer cars equal fewer air pollutants, plain and simple. However, understanding the different factors that create pollution helps us to appreciate the value of conscientious change. When air quality is improved, we can all breathe a little easier knowing we’re contributing to a long-term solution.
How Group Travel Affects Air Quality
What we see as simple car exhaust is a combination of substances, all of which affect our environment. Researchers estimate that over half of the nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide in our air are produced by transportation. To fully understand the benefits of group travel, consider the specific effect that the following types of emissions have on our environment.
- Carbon Dioxide
Carbon Dioxide emissions result from the production of coal, gas, and oil. It’s estimated that the average car emits its weight in carbon dioxide annually. SUVs and vans are even more polluting. While a bus emits more than a single vehicle would, the combined output of all the vehicles owned by individual passengers far outweighs that of a single bus.
The considerable amount of CO2 being currently released into our atmosphere has created a layer surrounding the earth. This layer traps heat inside, contributing to global warming. Commonly referred to as the Greenhouse Effect, it is a key factor in the loss of glaciers and the rise of sea levels.
- Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is created whenever we burn carbon-based fuels, and the average vehicle will emit over 600 pounds a year. Carbon monoxide emissions contribute to the creation of tropospheric ozone, which pollutes the air and has a variety of adverse effects on personal health. Carbon monoxide is not directly linked to global warming, but its presence impacts the concentration of other gases, such as CO2 and methane. This makes it a significant factor in climate change, because of the way it reacts with other substances. Carbon monoxide can remain in the atmosphere for a month, and the wind helps it to travel long distances.
- Reducing Nitrogen Oxides
These air pollutants contain oxygen and nitrogen, and they are formed whenever fossil fuels are burned at elevated temperatures. Nitrogen oxides are a significant contributor to smog and acid rain, both in cities and wilderness areas. Most of the smog in our atmosphere is classified as photochemical smog, which is created when sunlight interacts with various compounds: chiefly, nitrogen oxides. This process produces airborne particles, aka smog. Nitrogen oxides have an irritating odour and an array of associated adverse health effects. While some air pollutants have decreased in our atmosphere in the last three decades (due to improved vehicular engineering), global emissions of nitrogen oxides are unfortunately increasing.
Health-Related Effects of Air Pollution
Pollution doesn’t just hurt the planet; it’s also detrimental to individual health. It’s estimated that developed countries spend billions of dollars a year to combat illnesses linked to air pollution. This issue is of particular concern for residents of cities surrounded by mountains, such as Los Angeles and Mexico City. These natural basins trap smog, preventing its dispersal by wind. Air pollution worsens the severity of many existing illnesses, while directly causing new ones.
- Cancer – Researchers have officially classified air pollution as carcinogenic. The air we breathe in congested areas contains a variety of cancer-causing substances. While diesel fumes have long been considered a threat in this arena, we now know that all air pollution is problematic. Lung cancer is the most likely form of cancer to be related to air pollution; bladder cancer has also been linked.
While an individual’s risk of cancer also depends on genetics and lifestyle choices, some of the more polluted cities in the world are now showing higher incidences of cancer among citizens.
- Respiratory Disease – Any particle smaller than 2.5 microns (such as are created by combustion engines) can easily enter the human body, where it can irritate the lungs (and heart). Nitrogen oxides are known to be especially irritating to sensitive respiratory tracts. They are frequently linked to conditions such as bronchitis and can trigger asthma attacks. For sufferers with pre-existing conditions, a heightened concentration of nitrogen oxides increases the necessity and frequency of hospital visits.
In 1952, more than 4000 people died in London, England, during what is now referred to as the Great Smog. While this event was caused primarily by coal pollution, it highlights the potential threat that smog poses to respiratory health. Respiratory disease is on the rise in the world’s most polluted countries.
- Cardiovascular Disease – Smog-related risks can be particularly serious for the elderly, or anyone already suffering from heart disease. It’s believed that air pollutants have an inflammatory effect on the heart, which can cause chronic illness. If a person already has a build-up of fat in the lining of their arteries, pollution particles can cause vessels to rupture, triggering a heart attack.
The risk of cardiovascular issues also rises whenever respiratory illnesses are at play. This is because a restricted intake of oxygen means that the heart must work harder to circulate blood. People who live closer to a major road are at an increased risk from both cardiovascular and respiratory disease.
Decreasing vehicular traffic has been described as one of the most significant challenges facing our world. The World Health Organization estimates that one million annual deaths worldwide can be attributed to air pollution. While fewer cars means less fossil fuel waste being released into the atmosphere, it also means fewer pedestrian accidents and fewer wildlife deaths as a result of impacts. When considering bus travel for your next group event, make sure to consider companies with a range of different vehicle sizes. By not renting a bus that exceeds your required seat count, you’ll avoid burning more fuel than necessary during your journey.
Bus travel can be fun, affordable and convenient. On top of all the benefits to air quality (and your health), it’s also a great way to reduce stress. By letting someone else do the driving for you, you can focus on fun and relaxation.
Getting there the “green” way doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort. For luxury seating in a climate-controlled environment, contact Parkinson Coach Lines at (905) 451-4776, anywhere in Toronto and Brampton areas.Our experienced drivers will get to your destination safe and sound while helping you reduce air pollution in the process.