Transportation and Air Quality

Transportation activities are a major source of air pollution in the region. Learn more about how transportation effects air quality.

Cleaner Air Regular Tuneups

Three Main Pollutants for Transportation

Automobiles emit a number of nasty pollutants into the air around our cities. In Texas, the “big three” most hazardous to our health are:

  • NOx - “Nitrogen Oxides”, or NOx, is a generic term for reactive gases containing nitrogen and oxygen. NOx is one of the main ingredients that form ground-level ozone, which irritates lung tissues.
  • VOC - Volatile Organic Compounds, another ingredient in making ozone, are released into the air when fuel evaporates. NOx combines with VOCs during the heat and light of the day to form ground level ozone which irritates lung tissues.
  • PM - Particulate Matter is a complex mixture of particles, including the sooty emissions of automobiles. These emissions total up to thousands of pounds of pollution released into the air every day. PM can lodge in the lungs and cause respiratory and cardiac problems.

Five Ways to Help

When we get right down to it, health is our most treasured asset. The well-being of our loved ones, priceless. Air pollution especially threatens children and the elderly, two populations we strive hardest to protect. But there is brighter news. Five simple steps can help solve the problem.

  1. Maintain your vehicle cars and trucks in top running order pollute less
  2. Drive less walk, bike, take public transit, carpool, and combine errands - Visit Commute Solutions to learn more about sustainable commuting
  3. Buy a “cleaner” vehicle lower emitting vehicles such as hybrids are a cleaner option. You can also find information on other vehicles with lower emissions at
  4. Drive the speed limit not always popular, but always air-friendly; driving fast increases emissions
  5. Reduce idling limit the time you sit in drive-thrus, or better yet take the sometimes quicker and always healthier option, and walk inside

Vehicle Idling - Four tall tales about idling:

A virtually silent thief of gasoline, money, and the quality of our air. Idling for even a minute uses more fuel and creates more pollution than turning off the engine and restarting it. Many myths abound about idling, such as:

  • Idling is good for your car...NOT TRUE, and it even leads to an incomplete burn of fuel, leaving nasty deposits in your engine.
  • Idling is essential on cold-weather days...FALSE. Modern engines don’t need to idle. Oil begins circulating in seconds and it’s better to drive off and save your time and money (avoid burning fuel while going nowhere).
  • Idling for 15 minutes is the best way to warm up a vehicle...WRONG. Driving is the best way to warm up a vehicle.
  • Restarting a car is hard on equipment...NOT SO. Modern engineering studies show that restarting has little impact on batteries and starters.