What’s In Exhaust Fumes

Car exhaust fumes are a combination of gases and particulate matter, including:

  • Nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapors: These make up the majority of exhaust and are also found in the Earth’s ecosystem.
  • Carbon monoxide: An odorless and colorless gas that’s produced when fuel doesn’t fully combust. It can enter the bloodstream through the lungs and disrupt the transport of oxygen in red blood cells.
  • Carbon dioxide: A greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. High levels of carbon dioxide can cause poisoning, which can lead to dizziness, weakness, headaches, vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
  • Benzene: A toxic substance that occurs naturally in small amounts in petrol and diesel. It can be emitted from exhausts as unburnt fuel or through evaporation from the fuel system.
  • Nitrogen oxides: Produced in any combustion process.
  • Sulfur dioxide: A colorless gas that smells like burnt matches and occurs naturally in crude oil.
  • Hydrocarbons: Escape from exhausts as unburnt fuel due to incomplete combustion. 

Exhaust fumes can also contain particulate matter, such as soot, which can irritate the eyes and respiratory tract.

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