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Dirty diesel engines an obvious target for EPD

Submitted by admin on Nov 6th 2012, 12:00am



Howard Winn

It’s long been known that vehicles using old diesel engines cause a high proportion of Hong Kong’s roadside pollution. This was confirmed by the release of Hong Kong’s 2010 Air Pollutant Emission Inventory recently. It revealed that a relatively small number of old diesel-engined vehicles were causing a relatively high amount of roadside pollution.

The organisation Clean Air Network has worked on this information and calculates that commercial diesel vehicles – pre Euro, Euro I and Euro II – account for only 10 per cent of the vehicles on the road but account for 73 per cent of total roadside respirable suspended particulates (PM10) and 34 per cent of total roadside nitrogen oxides (NOx).

The reason for this is that the older engines are vastly more polluting than properly tuned newer engines. A pre-Euro engine, for example, produces 34 times more respirable particles than a Euro IV engine and 2.6 times more NOx. Even a Euro III engine produces five times more PM10 particles than a Euro IV and 1.4 times as much NOx.

If the network is right, getting rid of Euro II engines and those below it, would reduce PM10 particles by 73 per cent and a significant amount of NOx. According to the Hedley Environmental Index, the high level of roadside emissions in Hong Kong has resulted in an average of 3,200 avoidable deaths each year for the past five years.

This is a figure which the government has evidently felt quite comfortable with even though it exceeds by a long way the number of deaths due to bird flu, Sars, and swine flu, diseases that receive far more attention.

Getting rid of highly polluting vehicles is low-hanging fruit and is hopefully something that can be achieved relatively easily by the Environmental Protection Department.

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Air Pollution in Hong Kong

roadside pollution

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