Sunday, August 6, 2017

Electric cars are not the answer to air pollution, says top UK adviser

Electric cars are not the answer to air pollution, says top UK adviser
Desdemona's Blog  / (Jim)

Average growth in forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1) in school-age girls (open circles) and boys (closed circles) during an 8-year period, plotted against average NO2. Each dot represents a separate community. As background NO2 increases in communities, the rate of growth in FEV1 decreases. A similar effect was observed for background PM. Adapted with permission from Gauderman, et al. Graphic: Massachusetts Medical Society

By Damian Carrington
4 August 2017

(The Guardian) – Cars must be driven out of cities to tackle the UK's air pollution crisis, not just replaced with electric vehicles, according to the UK government's top adviser.

Prof Frank Kelly said that while electric vehicles emit no exhaust fumes, they still produce large amounts of tiny pollution particles from brake and tyre dust, for which the government already accepts there is no safe limit.

Toxic air causes 40,000 early deaths a year in the UK, and the environment secretary, Michael Gove, recently announced that the sale of new diesel and petrol cars will be banned from 2040, with only electric vehicles available after that. But faced with rising anger from some motorists, the plan made the use of charges to deter dirty diesel cars from polluted areas a measure of last resort only.

Kelly's intervention heightens the government's dilemma between protecting public health and avoiding politically difficult charges or bans on urban motorists. "The government's plan does not go nearly far enough," said Kelly, professor of environmental health at King's College London and chair of the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, official expert advisers to the government. "Our cities need fewer cars, not just cleaner cars."

Ministers were forced to produce an air pollution plan after being sued twice in the courts over illegal levels, but it was criticised as "woefully inadequate" and "lacking urgency" by city leaders and "inexcusable" by leading doctors. The government's own research showed the fastest and most cost-effective measure to cut the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution largely caused by diesel engines is to charge dirty cars to enter urban areas.

Electric vehicles emit no NO2 but do produce small particle pollution from the wear on brake discs and tyres and by throwing up dust from roads. A recent European commission research paper found that about half of all particulate matter comes from these sources. [more]

Electric cars are not the answer to air pollution, says top UK adviser

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"Let's live on the planet as if we intend to stay"
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