Monday 28 September 2020

Air quality may break EU rules in 130 kph zones, say scientists

Photo: Depositphotos.comThe air quality in places close to motorways where a maximum speed limit of 130 kph applies may exceed European standards, two Dutch scientific institutes said on Friday.

The maximum speed on dozens more stretches of motorway is being increased on February 5. However, both the public health institute RIVM and TNO research institute say in Friday’s Volkskrant that European rules on air pollution may now be broken.

Transport minister Melanie Schultz says the increase in the speed limit will not damage air quality, and quotes research by civil engineering group Tauw which forecasts only a limited rise in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from the higher speeds. Nitrogen dioxide is largely emitted by diesel cars.


Tauw says the concentration of NO2 will average 38 microgrammes per cubic metre, below the European standard of 40 microgrammes.

However, the RIVM argues the variation could be as much as eight microgrammes above or below the 40 microgramme limit, meaning the real amount is likely to be above the EU standard.

In addition, the TNO says the calculations used by Tauw do not take the forecast increase in traffic on the roads into account. On top of that, pollution emissions from new diesel cars has not gone down as much as stated earlier, because of car manufacturers’ fiddling with the figures, TNO says.

The government hopes that the 130 kph will eventually apply to some 75% of Dutch motorways.

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