Drive a Fuel-Efficient Car, Reduce Air Pollution

John Rockhold
January/February 2006
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If Batman drove a fuel-efficient car, this would be it ? the Toyota Prius, a gasoline/electric hybrid. The Prius is among the most fuel-efficient and least-polluting vehicles available.

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Almost a third of the air pollution in the United States comes from passenger vehicles. Choosing a greener car can help reduce air pollution and save you money at the gas pump.

Tailpipe emissions, such as nitrogen oxides, volatile organic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, are byproducts of engines' combustion process and the evaporation of fuel. They create smog and acid rain, and are damaging to both natural ecosystems and human health. High levels of air pollutants ? especially particulate matter ? are a serious health risk for those with respiratory problems or heart disease, which is why the EPA closely monitors and reports on local air-quality conditions.

To help you easily judge a car's emissions, the EPA provides air pollution scores for specific models, with zero signaling the most pollution and 10 the least. Each score reflects a set of limits for tailpipe emissions. When kept properly maintained, the vehicle will emit no more than those limits. The following 2005 models had the least amount of tailpipe emissions: the Toyota Prius, Ford Escape Hybrid, Saturn Ion, Honda Accord Hybrid and Nissan Sentra. To view more scores for the most fuel-efficient vehicles from model years 2000 to 2005, check out the October/November 2005 issue of Mother Earth News. For more information, visit the Alternative Transportation Page.

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