Motor vehicle pollution

Our personal transportation choices have a huge impact on air quality. What we drive and how we drive impacts the environment. Motor vehicles give off more than half of all carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions in Minnesota. These emissions, including microscopic particles, can contribute to breathing and heart problems along with an elevated risk of cancer.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency works with the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce air quality standards, and reduce motor vehicle pollution. The MPCA promotes technologies, fuels and driving habits that reduce emissions and fuel consumption for consumers and fleet operators.

How to reduce air pollution from cars and trucks

From walking to work to carpooling, there are lots of ways you can reduce your impact. Since most pollution from cars and trucks is due to the burning of fuel, you can reduce pollution from these sources by burning less fuel, burning fuel cleaner and burning cleaner fuel.

Burn less fuel

  • Next time you purchase a vehicle, buy the most fuel efficient vehicle that meets your average daily needs, preferably one that is rated at 32 MPG or more. Rent or borrow a larger vehicle or trailer for the occasional large load: HTML icon
  • If you have more than one vehicle, use the most fuel-efficient one possible: U.S. Department of Energy, Fuel Economy Site
  • Use transit and car- or van-pool as often as you can. Doing so three times a week can reduce your fuel consumption up to 50%.
  • Bike or walk to avoid fuel use entirely.
  • Telecommute (working from a home-based location via phone or Internet) to reduce driving: Midwest Institute for Telecommuting Education (MITE)
  • Minimize driving by working and playing closer to home.
  • Plan errands to avoid unnecessary driving.
  • Accelerate gradually — a smooth start uses less fuel

Burn fuel cleaner

  • Keep your vehicle well-tuned and tires inflated properly to reduce exhaust emissions.
  • Combine errands into one trip — cars pollute less when they are warmed up.
  • Avoid idling — idling exhaust contains more pollutants than running exhaust.
  • If you purchase a new car, look for a low emission vehicle or LEV (see under-hood sticker): HTML icon

Burn cleaner fuel

  • Low-sulfur gasoline (available in the Twin Cities) reduces pollutants by 10-15%
  • 85% ethanol fuel (E85) can be used in flexible fuel vehicles.
  • Other alternative transportation fuels such as natural gas a bio-diesel are most practical for fleets of vehicles.

Transportation planning

The MPCA serves as an advisor and technical resource for a transportation planning in Minnesota to ensure the efforts support air quality improvements. Transportation planning that reduces air pollution promotes:

  • Infrastructure that supports alternative and public transportation
  • Roadways and traffic controls that reduce congestion and idling
  • Land-use planning for walkable and bikeable neighborhoods
  • Measures to reduce the number of vehicles on the road, such telecommuting, flexible work hours, and rideshares

The MPCA works with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Twin Cities Metropolitan Council, local governments, and others to ensure that transportation investments will not contribute to violations of national air quality standards.