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EPA Ratings for Cars

The EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, is a government agency that regulates and monitors the effect of human industry on the planet and its natural resources. For example, regulations and rating systems placed on vehicles and driving are set by the EPA to ensure consumers and the public are aware of how safe and clean specific vehicles are.

Air Pollution Score

For each of these ratings, the scores range from zero to 10, with the higher number representing a better score. A perfect 10 in the air pollution rating means the car emits no pollutants from its tailpipe that may cause smog, a hazy environment, breathing and other health problems, and does not contribute to air pollution in general. A rating of 10 in this category is very rare, because nearly all cars produce tailpipe emissions that harm the environment in some way. Before a car can legally be manufactured, according to the EPA, it must undergo a series of tests that determine how safe it is to breathe the air in which the specific make and model of car will exist. The chemicals regulated by this testing and subsequent rating include various carbon compounds, nitrogen oxides that contribute to smog production when combined with hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide (which is poisonous to humans), particulate matter that is simply loose material coming from the vehicle, and formaldehyde, which causes many health problems.

Fuel Economy

The EPA rates fuel economy to determine the MPG, or miles per gallon, that a car achieves. For each gallon of gas that the car needs to run, the EPA takes into account the distance traveled by the car. For example, if you have 10 gallons of gas and travel 100 miles before exhausting the gas in the tank, you have a fuel economy of 10 miles per gallon. To find this number, simply divide the total number of miles traveled by the total number of gallons of gas consumed by the vehicle. By consuming less fuel, carbon emissions are lowered, which means that less poisonous and harmful chemicals are released into the environment. It is for this reason that the EPA encourages the use of more efficient vehicles and gives them a higher rating in this scale. Consumers might wish to purchase a vehicle with a higher fuel economy because it will save them money by requiring them to purchase less gas.

Greenhouse Gas Score

The EPA is concerned with protecting the planet, and this means protecting the atmosphere. The atmosphere naturally protects the Earth from harmful radiation from space with an element of the atmosphere called the ozone layer. Greenhouse gases are leading contributors to the destruction of this natural protection and also serve to trap harmful chemicals and radiation within the layers of the atmosphere that cause global warming. Excessive carbon dioxide released by vehicles produces a risk of causing more harmful natural circumstances for the health of human beings and the planet as a whole. By measuring the amount of carbon dioxide and other similar, so-called greenhouse gases, the contribution of a car's emissions to the harming of Earth is rated per car.
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