Biking in a Hydrocarbon Fog
by Dr. Bill Rawls | December 9, 2016
Nothing makes you more aware of how much cars pollute than a cold still day. Cool air doesn’t rise; so if there isn’t a breeze, car fumes hang by the roadway like a dense fog.
I happened to be riding my bike on one such day. It was in the middle of the afternoon when traffic was low. Even so, the stench was noticeable. After an hour on the bike, my eyes burned and my throat and nasal passages were uncomfortably irritated. I can only imagine what it was doing to my internal tissues.
Now think of that effect magnified by 1.2 billion. That’s how many cars there are worldwide. Of course, all of them are not on the road all at the same time, but most cars are driven at least once daily. And cars outside the US and other developed countries pump out much more pollution than cars here.
That’s a lot of pollution. It all adds up. Every living creature on the planet is affected. There is little doubt that pollution from cars contributes to chronic immune dysfunction and chronic illnesses such as cancer.
We ignore the potential for harm, however, because we like our cars. I, for one, am not ready to give up mine.
I do try to compensate by riding my bike whenever I can. I have chosen to live near stores that I use regularly. I also drive a small car that gets 37 mpg.
But after my experience today, I’m wondering if that’s enough. Maybe it’s time to go electric. Electric cars are starting to look more attractive. The Chevrolet Bolt, new this year, goes 250 miles on a charge and is reasonably priced. Tesla is also planning to introduce a reasonably priced all-electric car with a 250-mile range.
Of course, if your home’s electricity comes from burning coal, it’s just as bad as gasoline. But solar panels for producing electricity are also becoming very cost competitive. With a couple of solar panels on your roof, you can drive with a clear conscience knowing that you’re not contributing to a major health concern.
You can have your car and enjoy clean air too!