In about 100 years of the internal combustion automobile engine, atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached levels not seen in 3 million years, when the oceans were 30 feet higher, reports National Geographic. But what if we could turn that CO2 itself into fuel?
Researchers at the University of Texas are working on this very technology. This could influence manufacturers of hybrid or electric cars, such as Toyota, Nissan and Chevy, who get even further eco-friendly benefits from their electric vehicle technology.
image by Janitors
Meanwhile, the popularity of hybrid and electric cars is increasing. The trend is growing for new hybrid and electric car sales and more consumers are checking on used cars on Kelley Blue Book with a hybrid option. While the UT researchers may be able to buy a plug-in Toyota, there is some controversy as to how electric cars affect your health. Most experts claim the health effects are positive. Others are concerned there may be risks.
Positive health effects of electric cars
Tail-pipe emissions, the major cause of air pollution generated by gas-powered engines, will be eliminated and that factor alone will result in major health benefits. Some of those benefits include:
- Reduction in respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis and even lung cancer due to reduction in sulfur dioxide in the air.
- Reduction in heart disease due to reduction of nitrous oxides in the air.
- Improved immune systems due to reduction of benzene in the air.
- Reduction in allergies and asthma attacks due to reduction in ozone in the air.
- Reduce infant deaths, birth defects and low birth weight, all attributable to tail-pipe emissions of all kinds.
Although just a few electric cars on the road will not result in major changes in the air quality, as more and more people make the transition to electric cars, overall health benefits will increase.
Negative health risks of electric cars
Some people claim electric generating power plants will still cause air pollution. They argue that just as many, or more, toxic pollutants are released at the power plant where the electricity is generated than by gas-powered motor vehicles. This, some people argue, only moves the air pollution from where the cars are being driven to the plant where the electricity is being generated.
This argument is dispelled when the power plant emissions are compared to those from gas powered engines. Natural Gas-fired electric power plants generate minimal carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or other particulates. Also consider that the energy needed to refine a gallon of gasoline could power the average electric car 16-20 miles, notes HealthyCal.org
A recent study of electric cars in China, conducted by the University of Tennessee, found that electric cars were more harmful to health in that country because of how the electricity is generated. China generates its electricity from fossil fuels which release harmful pollutants into the air. China now has greater pollution in the rural air where the power plants are located than in the urban areas where the electric cars are being driven.
Others speculate that the electro-magnetic fields (EMF) generated by electric cars may be unhealthy and possibly cause cancer. The problem is that there is no proof that EMFs cause any disease, much less cancer. There may be some who are sensitive to EMFs, but at this point, no one really knows if they are dangerous in any way.