Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Air Quality

While car shopping a while ago I discovered something odd. Our county doesn't require vehicles to pass any emissions testing to be roadworthy. I don't know if its something about the winter air, but this bothers me. Often while I bike to work along a 50 MPH highway the only smell in the air is car exhaust. Feels like I'm breathing in pure fumes. I'm sure most of the residents of our city don't notice because insulated inside their cars they mainly breath air from their driveway, not the air around them. But that's not the only road where I've noticed serious problems with breathing in exhaust. I think mainly the city is just getting to the point of generating its own smog. And its not only that. Its not uncommon in this city for people to use their fireplace as a primary heating source. While I don't mind a small fire now and again, there are entire sections of my weekly routes that are continually bathed in woodsmoke because of the constant fires heating the homes on those roads. Between these two I get a very strong sense that the air I breathe is not terribly healthy and is probably getting worse. My asthma probably makes me more resentful than most people as well since I have trouble breathing when I bike past these quaint smokey chimneys. But I think its high time the people around here took air quality seriously.

I think the most opinion I've ever heard or seen expressed on the subject are the old apartment neighbor who took his muffler off his sports car so he could hear the engine growl louder, another associate who has sawed the catalyctic converter off his truck so it will "run" better, and a man at the car inspection place who complained next we were going to make ATV's pass emissions inspections too, what was this world coming to? As much as and even more than the culture here relishes its freedom to drive unnecissarily large trucks for their daily commute, I relish my ability to breath all year round.

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