From smog to serious health risks, there are a number of effects of exhaust fumes from motorbikes that deserve serious consideration. The engine typically used for two-wheeled vehicles is known as a 2-cycle engine. This type of internal combustion engine does not burn fuel as cleanly as engines used in other forms of transportation, and the effects of their exhaust can be far more pronounced.
Dust and Particulate Matter
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Unevenly burnt engine fuel releases tiny bits of particulate matter through the exhaust. These particles clump together and fall through the air. As it settles, a dark layer coats everything it contacts including the leaves of plants and the lungs of living things. Some of the most common symptoms that a person may experience from inhaling exhaust are sneezing, watery or burning eyes, and shortness of breath.
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Carbon monoxide is released in motorbike exhaust. Breathing carbon monoxide can result in drowsiness and an inability to concentrate, and prolonged exposure can lead to unconsciousness or even death. Riding a motorbike in a normal fashion does not usually lead to serious danger, but it is important to have adequate ventilation while operating the vehicle. Sitting in a group of idling motorbikes could potentially create enough carbon monoxide to result in mild drowsiness, especially if there is little or no air flow.
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Inhaling either the gases or particulate matter released in motorbike exhaust can trigger an asthmatic attack, even among those who are not chronic sufferers of the condition. Children and the elderly are most easily affected, followed by sports enthusiasts who practice along busy motorways. As with carbon monoxide, the danger to individuals is decreased when there is sufficient ventilation.
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Whether or not the emissions of motor vehicles is a primary cause of climate change, there is little doubt that emissions from internal combustion engines do play a role. Motorbikes have higher levels of exhaust emissions than most other vehicles, including known climate change accelerants such as carbon dioxide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
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Researchers in the United Kingdom have estimated that as many as 10 months are shaved from the average lifespan of a human being due to the inhalation of various exhaust emissions, including those of motorbikes. According to the World Health Organization, as many as 800,000 deaths per year are due to air pollution, and vehicle exhaust is a primary source of air pollution.