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Vehicle Particulate

Picture of automobiles, trucks, and buses
  • Automobiles, trucks and buses are considered to be major contributors when it comes to air pollution particulates.
  • New York State consumers purchase 750,000 new cars each year.
  • There are over 5,000 transit buses operating in New York City.
  • Motor vehicle particle emissions and the particles formed by the transformation of gaseous emissions tend to be in the fine particle range.
  • Fine particles (less than 2.5 micrometers) are of health concern primarily because they travel deepest into the lungs.
Photomicrograph of automobile exhaust particulate
D. Hershey
Stereo Microscope

View of automobile exhaust. Samples generally consist of 1 micron or less carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of gasoline and additives.

Photomicrograph of diesel particulate
D. Hershey
Polarized Light

View of diesel particulate collected on a teflon filter.

Photomicrograph of automobile exhaust particulate
D. Hershey
Electron Micrograph

Automobile exhaust on a necleopone filter. Gas vehicles produce a somewhat smaller particle than diesel vehicles. Scientists are still trying to determine what chemical differences there are between the two.

Photomicrograph of diesel particulate
D. Hershey
Electron Micrograph

Diesel particulate on a nucleopone filter. Diesel particulate matter (PM) emissions are 3.5-10 times higher than those from gasoline vehicles.

A recent study of particulate matter in NY City revealed that the predominant particulate collected was from diesel sources (52%). Automobiles contributed 6% of the total.

Graph of particulate matter in NY City

  • Contact for this Page
    Division of Air Resources
    Bureau of Air Quality Surveillance
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-3256
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