Automobile emissions control covers all the technologies that are employed to reduce the air pollution-causing emissions produced by automobiles.
Vehicle emissions control is the study of reducing the motor vehicle emissions -- emissions produced by motor vehicles, especially internal combustion engines.
Emissions of many air pollutants have been shown to have variety of negative effects on public health and the natural environment.
Emissions that are principal pollutants of concern include:
Hydrocarbons -- A class of burned or partially burned fuel, hydrocarbons are toxins.
Hydrocarbons are a major contributor to smog, which can be a major problem in urban areas.
Prolonged exposure to hydrocarbons contributes to asthma, liver disease, lung disease, and cancer.
Regulations governing hydrocarbons vary according to type of engine and jurisdiction; in some cases, "non-methane hydrocarbons" are regulated, while in other cases, "total hydrocarbons" are regulated.
Technology for one application (to meet a non-methane hydrocarbon standard) may not be suitable for use in an application that has to meet a total hydrocarbon standard.
Methane is not directly toxic, but is more difficult to break down in a catalytic converter, so in effect a "non-methane hydrocarbon" regulation can be considered easier to meet.
Since methane is a greenhouse gas, interest is rising in how to eliminate emissions of it.
Carbon monoxide (CO) -- A product of incomplete combustion, carbon monoxide reduces the blood's ability to carry oxygen; overexposure (carbon monoxide poisoning) may be fatal.
Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a killer in high concentrations.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) -- Generated when nitrogen in the air reacts with oxygen at the high temperature and pressure inside the engine.
NOx is a precursor to smog and acid rain.
NOx is a mixture of NO, N2O, and NO2.
NO2 is extremely reactive.
It destroys resistance to respiratory infection.
NOx production is increased when an engine runs at its most efficient (i.e. hottest) part of the cycle.
Particulate matter -- Soot or smoke made up of particles in the micrometre size range: Particulate matter causes negative health effects, including but not limited to respiratory disease and cancer.
Sulfur oxide (SOx) -- A general term for oxides of sulfur, which are emitted from motor vehicles burning fuel containing sulfur.
Reducing the level of fuel sulfur reduces the level of Sulfur oxide emitted from the tailpipe.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) -- Organic compounds which typically have a boiling point less than or equal to 250 °C; for example chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and formaldehyde.
Volatile organic compounds are a subsection of Hydrocarbons that are mentioned separately because of their dangers to public health.