Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are one of the top air pollutants but luckily their concentrations in air have significantly decreased in the last 50 years. This has mostly to do with the fact that today's cars are much cleaner than the ones produced 50 years ago.
VOCs are primarily being emitted into the air from the tailpipes of vehicles, and are known to be a key substance of the ozone, which at excessive levels can lead to health issues (harming lungs) and can also cause major damage to plants.
The Los Angeles area in California is one of the worst air polluted areas in the United States, and U.S. researchers were certainly very surprised after discovering that the levels of VOC's in the air in the Los Angeles Basin have dropped by about 98 percent since the 1960s. In fact, VOCs levels decreased by an average of 7.5 percent per year.
It certainly looks like California's longtime efforts to control vehicle pollution have at least somewhat paid off because even on the most polluted day during a research mission in 2010, researchers measured only 50 of VOCs pollutants compared to measurement taken eight years earlier, in 2002.
What this means is that the ozone levels have been steadily dropping in Los Angeles Basin since the 1960s, but the bad news is that the current levels still fail to meet ozone standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The cars have become much cleaner because of the „improved catalytic converters, use of reformulated fuels less prone to evaporate, and overall improved engine efficiency of new vehicles.“
The decrease in emissions of VOCs is set to continue further because new cars are becoming increasingly cleaner, especially as hybrid and electric vehicles further grow in popularity across the Californian roads.
Clean air is one of the main prerequisites of normal, healthy life and is certainly good to see that the California's clean air policy is finally bearing fruit.