Particle and nitrous oxide pollution in your car

By Dave Armstrong - 08 Sep 2014 15:57:0 GMT
Particle and nitrous oxide pollution in your car

The air seems clear, but the pollution is both invisible and inside your passenger compartment; Traffic image; Credit: © Shutterstock

"Counterintuitive," could be the key to the failure of people to understand the car's pollution blind spot. Those inside any car receive the full blast of the intake from the middle of the road, inside their own engine compartment. That air contains all the pollutants from any passing diesel engine. The car you are in contains the tiny P10 particulates that scientists are finally realising are among the most dangerous pollutants for health and nitrogen oxides. They come from nearby traffic. The diesel engine, particularly the diesel truck, have been misleading us. For years we didn't notice that they were emitting much more significant pollutants than petrol cars. The European approach used to be that diesel should be taxed less. Now the need is to try and keep them out of city centres, as Paris has done.

NO2 and tiny particle (PM10) pollution in one city is possibly the worst in Europe. This is London. Buses, HGVs and older vehicles look likely to be restricted in central London, as they have been in many other cities. The alternative: reducing the capacity of roads to handle vehicles simply exacerbates the already jammed road problem you find at both sides of the weekend and at many other times, on, for example the giant M25.

After several pollution incidents during the 90s, NO2 and PM10 pollution were decreasing in England's capital, but only during certain seasons. Sulphur dioxide and smoke (large particles) were reduced in London 40 years ago, but PM10, ozone and nitrogen oxides are now building up. Sean D. Beevers and his colleagues from King's College University report in London's air quality that emissions have been decreasing, but not for those originating in diesel engines.

With roadside measurements and background surveys, the trends have been indicating that the city centre and part of West London have very high nitrogen dioxide measurements. Using climate mapping techniques, the authors claim present strategies will have little effect on NO2 and PM10 levels. They even persuaded 5 members of the UK Parliament (members of the Environmental Audit Committee) to get into taxis and other vehicles to check that vehicles received the highest average exposure. The monitors reported the high levels of 50m particles (PM10) per breath. Central streets measured only 6.5m particles per breath, but City Hall had only 3 million. The answer is obvious- use your MP's allowance to buy a house in the country and commute!

More on Latvia and China, but little action in North America in - Air pollution brings death in cities. We believe California are trying to restrict heavy diesel trucks from polluting the state, but nobody seems to be acting on specific city problems with the effects of particles and nitrogen oxides on health.