People who live near the A27 between Breda and Oosterhout are at greatest risk of health problems due to pollution from roads with a 130kph speed limit, according to a report from environmental campaign group Milieudefensie.
The report says this stretch of road presents the country’s most ‘dramatic’ health risks, with the highest concentration of nitrogen oxide per trip, followed by the A2 near Urmond in Limburg and then the A58 at Galder in North Brabant.
The report, based on calculations by civil engineering group Tauw, claims that ‘the total probability that somewhere along one of the roads the nitrogen dioxide norms will be exceeded is roughly estimated at around 81%.’
Anne Knol, campaign leader on traffic for the environmental group, told the Brabants Dagblad: ‘The average loss of life expectancy for people who were exposed to high concentrations [of pollution] is about twenty months.’
Last month two Dutch scientific institutes said that the air quality in stretches of road with a new 130kpm speed limit may exceed European standards. Transport minister Melanie Schultz asserts that an increase in the speed limit will not damage air quality, quoting Tauw. But public health institute RIVM and the TNO research institute have disagreed, and the lower house has asked for clarification from the minister.
The Dutch government raised the speed limit on 19 roads in February and wants to expand the 130kph limit to 75% of motorways. A spokesperson for Schultz told the Brabants Dagblad that ‘it does not recognise the idea that the standard could be exceeded by 81%’ and that Friends of the Earth is painting ‘an unrealistic picture’.
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