Burnaby, British Columbia – The British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) and AirCare have released findings for today’s Clean Air Day that confirm a marked improvement in air pollutant emissions from vehicles over the past ten years. These pollutants are emissions that affect air quality and contribute to health issues.

BCAA and AirCare compared the tailpipe emissions of five 2008 vehicles against their 1998 predecessors. Although each vehicle has changed in size and engine capacity over the past ten years, the results indicate a positive 72 to 97 per cent improvement in vehicle air pollutants. The results showed a 97 per cent improvement in the Honda Civic; 95 per cent in the Dodge Caravan; 93 per cent in the Ford Explorer; 88 per cent in the Volkswagen Jetta; and 72 per cent in the Chevrolet Malibu.

The vehicle scores included hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). The 1998 figures were based on a sampling of vehicles that recently passed AirCare, while the 2008 figures were based on vehicles supplied to AirCare by BCAA, courtesy of the manufacturers.

AirCare Operations Manager Dave Gourley said the results validate that auto manufacturers have met the challenge set by governments to reduce the emissions of smog-forming pollutants by about 99 per cent, compared to an uncontrolled vehicle from the mid-1960s. “To get the full air quality benefits of this advanced technology, owners of 1998 and newer vehicles need to respond to the ‘check engine’ light as soon as it appears,” Gourley said. “Older cars need to be checked periodically to keep them as clean as they can be, for as long as they remain on the road.”

The ten-year analysis shows virtually no change in greenhouse gas emissions, primarily CO2, which are more directly linked to fuel consumption.

“Largely through technology, vehicle manufacturers have managed to meet tougher government standards and significantly reduce air pollutants,” said Trace Acres, BCAA Director of Corporate Communications and Government Affairs. “It will be interesting to see whether automakers will tackle the next challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions using technology – hybrids or fuel cells, for example – or by promoting smaller, lighter and less powerful vehicles, or both.”

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