A small percentage of the cars that passed an air-sampling probe in downtown Toronto produced the vast majority of vehicular pollution, according to a recently published study by University of Toronto scientists.
The study suggests that these small number of cars are older and badly tuned.
It notes that 100,000 vehicles were tested on College St. and a quarter of them produced 95 per cent of the black carbon (soot), 93 per cent of the carbon monoxide and 76 per cent of the volatile organic compounds such as benzene, toluence, ethylbenzene and xylenes, some of which are known carcinogens.
"The most surprising thing we found was how broad the range of emissions was," says U of T chemical engineer and study author Greg Evans, in a statement. "As we looked at the exhaust coming out of individual vehicles, we saw so many variations. How you drive, hard acceleration, age of vehicle, how the car is maintained – these are things we can influence that can all have an effect on pollution."
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