Government of New Brunswick
Air Emissions - Facts for Kids

In New Brunswick, we are lucky to have fairly clean and healthy air compared with some places in the world. But we do create some air pollution and it can also travel to our province from other areas by wind and weather.

Air pollution comes in many forms - You may be surprised to know that air pollution can come from nature, but it's true. The smoke and ash from forest fires, pollen from plants, salt spray from the ocean and even a far-off volcano can change our air.

However, most air pollution is caused by the things that humans do. When we operate industries with smoke stacks, burn wood, or when we drive cars and other vehicles, pollution is released into the air. This smoke, fumes, and other material are called "emissions", because they are emitted or sent into the air.

Did you know that transportation causes about one-third of Canada's air pollution? Every year over 15 million cars, trucks and other vehicles travel on the roads across our country, including here in New Brunswick, and they produce "carbon dioxide" emissions. That's the gas that comes out of the exhaust pipe when a vehicle burns the fuel it needs to make it go. Carbon dioxide has no colour or smell but it can cause problems for our environment.

Scientists believe that carbon dioxide is the main cause of "global warming". Have you heard about global warming? Sometimes it's called "climate change" and it means that the temperature on our planet is changing. That's because air pollution changes the atmosphere and the atmosphere is like a blanket that helps trap the sun's heat near the surface of the earth so we can live here. When there are changes in the atmosphere, it can get too warm for plants and trees to grow, and it can "evaporate" or dry up our water supplies.

But, there are things we can do to help our environment so that the earth continues to be a healthy place for all living things. And one of those things is changing the way we get around.

First of all, we can make better decisions about how many trips we need to make each day and each week, so that we don't end up wasting fuel and creating unnecessary carbon dioxide. In places where there are buses, trains or subways, people can choose to travel in these vehicles instead of everyone driving a car. Or, people can share a drive so that more people travel in one car instead of each taking their own. If a car is kept in good condition that also helps create less air pollution.

There are also new kinds of cars being made that don't use gas as their only source of fuel. For example, the Government of New Brunswick purchased a car called a "hybrid" which can run on electricity as well as gas. That means less gas is being used each time the car is used. Most cars use a gallon of gas when they travel about 48 kilometers, but the hybrid car can go over 100 kilometers on one gallon of gas!

 

Vehicles and Atmosphere   Number of
Kilometres
per person
A small car can carry one person for 9 km on 1 litre of fuel 9
4 people in a small car 36
A bus with 40 passengers carries each person the equivalent of 50 km on 1 litre of fuel 50
A train carries each person the equivalent of 55 km on 1 litre of fuel
55

Some electric cars have to be plugged in to re-charge the batteries, just like we do with some video camera batteries. But in the hybrid car, the batteries re-charge themselves every time the driver uses the brakes, so it's much more convenient to use. Convenience is one thing, but preventing air pollution is even more important, and the most important things about this car and others like it, is that it doesn't use as much fuel as regular cars and that it doesn't emit as much carbon dioxide when it's being used.

Hybrid Car

Who knows? Maybe by the time you are old enough to drive, all or many cars will run on electricity, or even solar power! In the meantime, you can think about that next trip to the store or soccer practice or wherever you go... can you walk or ride your bike instead? Can you travel with other kids so that fewer cars are burning gas and creating air pollution? Just remember... kids don't have to wait until they're grown-ups to make a difference. Everything you do to protect the environment today, will mean you can enjoy a healthier, cleaner environment when you do grow up.

If you would like to learn more about air pollution or other environmental subjects, you can call or write to us any time