Car Care for Clean Air

Responsible car care habits for drivers can help keep the air clean.

California’s more than 18 million automobiles consume more than 14 billion gallons of gasoline each year – enough gasoline to fill a line of tanker trucks stretched bumper to bumper from San Francisco to San Diego and back.

Here are three no-cost actions you can take right away to reduce your gas consumption by up to 15 percent!

  • Keep tires properly inflated to the recommended pressure.
  • Use the car’s air conditioner selectively.
  • Observe the posted speed limits. It’s safer and saves gas.

Here are some more no-cost ideas:

  • Accelerate smoothly and brake gradually. It’s safer, uses less gas and reduces brake wear.
  • Properly maintain your vehicle. Replace air and oil filters as recommended.
  • Minimize the amount of time your vehicle idles. For example, consider parking the car instead of using the “drive-up” lanes.

And here are some ideas if you want to do more:

money Save Your Money
Once the nozzle clicks off the first time, the gas you’re paying for (at these prices!) is NOT going into your tank. It’s stuck in the hose, or getting ready to spill on the next person. In any case, you just increased your price per gallon by paying for something you’re not getting!
Save Your Health Gasoline vapors are bad to breathe. When you smell gas, that means some highly toxic substances are in the air. Topping off your tank damages the vapor recovery system that’s designed to minimize the amount of vapors released into the air and protect our health. fumes
  Save Your Planet
Gas vapors also include volatile organic compounds that are involved in the formation of smog, which harms our lungs and our environment. Plus, when the vapor recovery system isn’t working properly and gas spills on the ground, the residue can run off into our creeks and our ocean.

Gasoline Vapors and Your Health

Did you know that…Spilling a “shot glass” (one ounce) of gasoline produces the same volatile organic compound emissions as a car driving 56 miles?

Gasoline vapors include several substances considered toxic air contaminants by the state of California, including benzene,  toluene, and a gasoline additive known as MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether). Although MTBE is being phased out, it is still present in the fuel pumped at many stations. The state considers benzene a carcinogen, meaning that exposure over time can increase cancer risk; all three of these air toxics can produce acute or chronic non-cancer health effects.As part of the actions to phase out MTBE in gasoline, benzene will be even further reduced than is required today. Benzene, considered one of the primary toxic air pollutants contributing to public health risks, can affect the central nervous system, the respiratory tract and immune system. Exposure to benzene has been associated with increased risk of different types of leukemias and other cancers.

MTBE can produce some non-cancer health effects, including nausea and dizziness, and the state considers that it may possibly be a weak carcinogen.

Toluene is considered a central nervous system depressant, and has been associated with cardiac arrthymias, and liver and kidney injury. It’s also considered by the state to be a developmental toxicant, meaning that it has the potential to affect fetal development.

Frequently Asked Questions

The pump shut off, but I know I need more gas. Shouldn’t I keep trying to pump?

No. You could damage the vapor recovery system more, and cause more problems. If you really think the pump shut off too soon, make sure to mention that to a station attendant, and try a different pump.

I picked up the nozzle and gas spilled out. What should I do?

It’s likely that someone before you topped off a tank and caused this problem for you, and the damage is done. The nozzle may still be able to function properly,  but if you notice any more problems, tell an attendant at the station, and use a different pump.

Some nozzles have a rubber boot on the end and some have a thinner spout with holes in it. Why?

The boot and the spout are parts of different types of vapor recovery systems. They work differently, but both types of nozzles are certified to prevent gas vapors from escaping.

I started to fill my tank and there’s a strong smell of gasoline. What should I do?

Tell an attendant at the station, and to report a problem, call the District at 332-9400.

How can I reduce my risk of breathing gas vapors at the station?

Use the nozzle’s hold-open latch to pump the gas continuously, and stand upwind (but stay close enough to monitor it). Always remember to remove the nozzle before driving away — and be sure to tighten your gas cap.

Comments are closed.