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Effect of traffic flow on the release of pollutant gasesFeatured science projectScience project video


This science fair project was performed to compare traffic flow and pollution emission at different times of the day. The observation was done on a highway by monitoring the average speed, amount of vehicles and the flow of traffic.


Air pollution will be the most severe in the early mornings and late evenings, during peak hour traffic.

Scientific Terms

Pollutant gases, hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides


Vehicle gas emissions

Motor vehicles consume gasoline and release several types of gaseous pollutants into the environment. These pollutants may cause poor visibility, respiratory problems such as asthma, and may even affect the quality of fresh water.

Among the pollutants released by motor vehicles are hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and other particulates. Hydrocarbons are partially burned fuel and are toxic. They can cause liver damage and cancer. Carbon monoxide reduces our blood’s ability to carry oxygen, so overexposure to it may be fatal. Nitrogen oxides affect our resistance to respiratory infections. Similarly, particulates from vehicle fumes can cause respiratory problems.

Good driving habits and a well-maintained car can help reduce pollution emitted on roads. Most vehicles are most efficient at speeds between 55km/h to 75km/h. Within this speed range, the least amount of fuel is consumed and the least amount of pollution is emitted. In contrast, driving in heavy traffic causes one to accelerate and brake frequently, which consumes more fuel as well as releases more polluting gases.

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Complexity level:
Project cost ($):
Time required:
1 hour for preparation, 2 days for experiment
Material availability:
Safety concerns:

Be careful of road vehicles - Adult supervision required.