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Diesel particles - a health hazard


									Diesel particles

- a health hazard
     Diesel particles - a health hazard   1
                     Diesel particles - a health hazard

    ISBN:             87-89843-61-4
    Text by:          Christian Ege, Director, The Danish Ecological Council
    Translation:      Nanna Balsby
    Lay out:          Søren Dyck-Madsen
    Photos:           Søren Dyck-Madsen, page 2, 10 and 11
                      Planet Ark, page 6 right
                      Tuk Tuk Thailand, page 6 left
                      Renovations Transport Roskilde, page 12
    Drawing:          Lars-Ole Nejstgaard
    2. Issue:         August 2004
    The pamphlet is free, but postage and services are charged. It can be read and downloaded
    from our homepage:
    The pamphlet is funded by Enkefru Plums Fund.
    Copyright: The Danish Ecological Council
    Citation, reproduction and other use of the booklet is allowed with a source reference.

    Published by:

    The Danish Ecological Council
    Tomorrow’s Environment is Created Today
    Blegdamsvej 4B
    DK-22 00 Copenhagen N
    Phone no.: +45 33150777
    Fax no.: +45 33150971

2                         The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004
Small particles - the number one trafc killer

 There is every indication that small (ultra-     tained on the damaging effects of ultra-ne
 ne) particles, mainly emitted from diesel       particles. There are only a few population
 vehicles, are among the pollutants that rep-     surveys (epidemiological surveys) but these
 resent the biggest health hazard. Since the      are substantiated by animal testing on the
 mid 1990’s, much attention has been given        damaging effect of the particles. The re-
 to this issue in the United States-followed a    searchers conclude that the particles appear
 couple of years later by Europe. In this con-    to cause approximately 5,000 deaths an-
 nection, the Danish Environmental Protec-        nually in Danish cities (1) and that one-
 tion Agency published a report indicating        fourth, i.e. approximately 1,250 deaths,
 that annually the ultra-ne particles appar-     could be avoided if heavy diesel vehicles
 ently cause several hundred early deaths         were tted with particle lters.
 per million inhabitants in big cities. A re-
 duction of 30% of emissions could prob-          In June 2003, the Danish Ministry of Trans-
 ably prevent 300-400 of these deaths annu-       port published its concluding statement on
 ally per million inhabitants in cities. This     particles. Their estimations are somewhat
 rate is higher than for example deaths in        lower: 3,400 early deaths of which 450
 trafc accidents in the largest cities in Den-   could be avoided by tting diesel-powered
 mark. The gure quoted is based primarily        heavy vehicles with particle lters. These
 on American studies. Especially the elderly      gures are, however, still very high. Fur-
 suffer. What is more, the small particles        thermore, it is also estimated that the par-
 seem to aggravate asthma incidences, also        ticles entail 3,300 additional cases of chron-
 among the many children with this condi-         ic bronchitis, 11,600 new cases of acute
 tion. What makes the small particles espe-       bronchitis in children under the age of 15,
 cially dangerous is that they can enter the      and approximately 160,000 additional asth-
 smallest vessels of the lungs.                   ma attacks.

 Today, it is widely agreed upon among re-        What is more, small particles from diesel
 searchers all over the world that the health     vehicles are also a serious problem in the
 implications of small particles are extreme-     working environment of for example bus
 ly serious. A large-scale WHO funded             and taxi drivers, refuse collectors, and those
 project conducted in France, Switzerland         working for construction contractors.
 and Austria indicated that airborne pollu-       The small particles are also a problem in-
 tion from trafc leads to extensive health       doors as they get in through the smallest
 hazards, principally because of small parti-     of cracks. According to studies, the level
 cles. A Dutch study concluded that mean          of ultra-ne particles in ats with windows
 life expectancy in city areas with small-        facing heavily trafcked streets is consider-
 particle pollution is reduced by about 12        ably higher than in ats with windows fac-
 months due to those particles. This is quite     ing the courtyard.
 an extreme outcome compared to the calcu-
 lated impacts of other environmental fac-        Petrol-powered vehicles also emit small
 tors.                                            particles, though to a lesser extent. On an
                                                  estimate, two-thirds of particles emitted by
 In 2002, a group of Danish researchers           road trafc seem to come from diesel ve-
 summarised in an article the knowledge ob-       hicles and, since they number far fewer

                               Diesel particles - a health hazard                                  3
    than petrol-powered vehicles, there is much               is generally the same. In the United States
    to be said for prioritising particle ltering             and Japan, though, the amount of cars with
    in diesel vehicles. Moreover, older pet-                  a catalytic converter is higher as they intro-
    rol-powered cars without a catalytic con-                 duced catalytic converters before Europe
    verter also emit particles. Laboratory meas-              did. Therefore, there is every reason to
    urements have shown that the release of                   make a targeted effort in order to have par-
    small particles from a petrol-powered ve-                 ticles removed from the emission from die-
    hicle with a catalytic converter is approxi-              sel vehicles.
    mately a hundredth of that from a vehicle
    without one, and the latter will emit fewer               New developments have led to an increase
    particles than a diesel vehicle. The impli-               in petrol-powered cars with direct injection,
    cation is that particle emission from pet-                the so-called GDI cars. Though these have
    rol-powered vehicles will automatically de-               a low level of fuel consumption, the emis-
    crease in the coming yeas as the proportion               sion of particles is at the same level as
    of vehicles with emission control systems                 diesel vehicles. There is thus a need for
    gradually increases. Today, it is estimated               taking measures in regards to these petrol
    that 85-90% of all petrol-powered cars have               cars, something that is presently being con-
    a catalytic converter, which has been a legal             sidered in the EU.
    requirement since 1993. Though the rate is                (1) Denmark has a population of ve million inhab-
    somewhat lower in some EU countries, it                   itants where almost two million live in large cities.

    Figure 1: the schematic distribution of airborne particles according to size. The gure shows that
    most particles from car emissions lie in the ultra-ne interval between 0,001-0,1 mm. Widespread
    particles lie in the ne interval between 0,1-2,5mm, while dust whirled up from the street lies in the
    coarse interval above 2.5 mm. As PM10 indicates a particle mass of less than 10 mm, the ultra-ne
    particles are of little signicance hereof.
    From the Odense report (Denmark’s Road Safety and Transport Agency 2002) page 10

            Figure 1: Typical size distribution of particles in the air

                                                                        Wind-swept dust
                                                                       Whirled up street dust
             Particles emitted from cars   Long distance transport


                              Ultra-ne                Fine                  Coarse

4                              The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004
                                  Why lters?

In other elds, we often advocate preven-         lters withhold both large and small parti-
tion or changes in technology rather than         cles, which are burnt in the lter. Yet an-
purication. Diesel vehicles are, however,        other option is to change fuel-that is, switch
especially used for carriage of goods, and        to gas or electric operation. However, that is
secondly used as busses, taxies and private       a lot more costly.
cars. It is hard to imagine trafc restrictions
that would in themselves be radical enough        Nor are particle lters inexpensive. Prices,
to solve the problem. Only a technical solu-      including tting, were in 2001 approximately:
tion can bring about a drastic reduction in
                                                  Large van                    Euro 3,600
emissions. It is possible to make a little
headway, for example, by better use of the        Bus or medium-sized lorry Euro 5 - 6,000
capacity of lorries and vans. But even if
a 20-30% decrease in diesel-powered trans-        Heavy lorry                  Euro 9,000
port could be achieved (which would be an
extremely ambitious target) that reduction        Prices are nevertheless decreasing. The
would be grossly inadequate in relation to        Municipality of Copenhagen received an
the small particles. Furthermore, in recent       offer in mid 2003 on particle lters for
years there has been a dramatic surge in the      heavy vehicles at the rate of Euro 4,000
market share of diesel-powered private cars.      apiece, excluding installation.
It could be possible to solely use petrol-
powered cars instead. Nevertheless, there is      As for private cars, the change can be made
an inherent dilemma in this shift: a diesel       at a much lesser cost. Today lters are
engine saves 25-30% on fuel, which is a           only offered for few models, and only for
benet in regards to CO2 and the green-           the more expensive cars, yet considerably
house effect; but the particles will make it      more models will be marketed with lters
extremely hazardous to human health. This         in 2004. The sale of diesel-powered private
serves to further underline the fact that we      cars has exploded in the EU: in Denmark,
need to solve the particle problem before
                                                  sales have increased from 9% in 1999 to
too many diesel-powered cars have left the
                                                  20% in 2002. Likewise, over half of the
assembly line. Once the particle problem
                                                  new cars sold in France and Austria run
has been dealt with, the use of diesel will
                                                  on diesel. Now is therefore the time to con-
offer environmental benets. However, be-
                                                  centrate on diesel-powered private cars. No
cause the emission of NOx is higher when
                                                  marketing efforts have focused on retrot-
using diesel, it is necessary to reduce NOx
                                                  ting lters on private cars, though the lter
levels in the fuel.
                                                  producer informs that this is the result of a
In order to achieve the required reduction        lack of demand. The demand for particle l-
of particle emissions we have to resort to        ters, however, will not come automatically.
technical solutions. And such a solution ac-      The lters need to be promoted through leg-
tually exists, namely particle lters. These      islation, green taxes and subsidies.

                               Diesel particles - a health hazard                                  5
                                  A global problem

    Emission of hazardous diesel particles is a         three-wheeled vans that are used abundant-
    problem overall in the world, especially in         ly in India. Also the younger busses, taxi-
    large cities. This is why the World Health          cabs and “three-wheelers” had to convert to
    Organisation (WHO) has decided to pri-              natural gas by 31.03.2001.
    oritise the ght against particle emissions.
    In New Delhi, the environmental organisa-           After intense lobbying by the oil industry,
    tion Centre for Science and Environment             the city council chose to disregard the rul-
    (CSE) has established the “Right to Clean           ing. When pressure on the city council in-
    Air Campaign Team”. The large cities in In-         creased, they simply chose to suspend all
    dia are very much affected by trafc pollu-         bus services for a while. They hoped that
    tion and especially particles seem to cause         this would bring about an outcry from the
    many thousands of early deaths each year.           many who were forced to walk to work and
    CSE, among others, took the matter to court         that they thus could invalidate the ruling.
    in order to solve the problem. CSE believed         This tactic, however, did not work. CSE
    that it was better to take the big leap and         and others had informed so widely about
    use natural gas, rather than to take incre-         the hazards of air pollution that the people
    mental steps by lowering the sulphur con-           were willing to take issue with the problem.
    tent and applying European emission stand-          After a period of time, the court imposed
    ards until particle lters are introduced.          nes on the city council until they abided
    In 1998, the court sustained their claim            by the ruling. Only then did the city council
    and the city council of New Delhi was im-           convert the vehicles and now many thou-
    posed to convert all buses, taxicabs and            sands of vehicles use gas, though far from
    “three-wheelers” from before 1990 to gas            all do.
    by 31.03.2000. “Three-wheelers” are the

    Street scene from India with diesel “three-wheelers”, busses, etc.

6                            The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004
                        Are lters effective?

It has been questioned whether particle l-      handling company of Aarhus (3) (Aarhus
ters are actually effective in inhibiting ul-    Renholdningsselskab) have had positive ex-
tra-ne particles-of 10-30 nanometres (one       perience in using this system.
billionth of a metre). In 2002, the Danish
Road Safety and Transport Agency (under          The Odense trial showed that several of the
the Ministry of Transport) and the Munici-       diesel vehicles were in such poor condition
pality of Odense (2) published a 2-year full-    that they ruined the particle lters. The soot
scale trial of particle lters on 120 heavy      simply covered the lters in no time. This
vehicles. The trial showed that several of       should not be understood as an argument
the lters tested satised the required 80%      against the use of lters but rather as an
reduction, also of ultra-ne particles (of       argument for ensuring maintenance. These
10-100 nanometers = 0.01-0.1 mm), while          vehicles represent an unnecessarily serious
there were problems with two of the re-          pollution hazard. Heavy diesel vehicles
maining lters. Sulphur, emitted as sul-         are presently imposed an annual check-up
phate particles when the motor was strained,     where emission density is tested, that is to
accumulated in the lters. The lters also       say how translucent it is. Action should be
underwent durability tests after one as well     taken, however, to ensure that car owners do
as two years of operation and the lters         not adjust the motor to pollute as little as
mentioned still functioned satisfactory.         possible before inspection only to readjust

Apart from the problems mentioned above
concerning sulphur in some lters (includ-
ing the renowned CRT lter), NO2 emis-
sions also increased. The lters are com-
bined with a catalytic converter, which is
used to increase the temperature in the
lter. Some of the NO2, though, passes
through the lter. Thus, the dilemma is that
in choosing to decrease particle emissions,
it can lead to an increase in NO2 emissions.
The dilemma, however, can be avoided by
selecting the correct type of lter that lives
up to the required reduction of small parti-
cles without increasing emissions of oxides
of nitrogen. One of the lters depends upon
a diesel oil additive based on an iron or
cerium compound, which are both not haz-
ardous to the environment or human health.       The front page of the Odense report (Denmark’s
Evidently, it is crucial to ensure that the      Road Safety and Transport Agency 2002)
additive is used, for example by tting an       The Road Safety and Transport Agency along
additive tank in the vehicle along with auto-    with the Municipality of Odense carried out a
matic dosage and a blocking device making        major trial of particle lters on heavy diesel-
certain that the vehicle cannot drive when       powered vehicles, reported in 2002. The picture
the additive tank is empty. The public waste     shows a city bus tted with a lter.

                              Diesel particles - a health hazard                                   7
    the motor afterwards to its highest perform-     In 2002, the Danish rm Halldor Topsøe
    ance, which increases pollution. Some may        disclosed a prototype for a new purication
    be tempted to do just that because they pri-     system for diesel-powered vehicles in which
    oritise high performance, i.e. high speed and    urea is added to the catalytic converter.
    quick acceleration, rather than limiting emis-   Though the system does not specically
    sions. In practice, there has been no control    clean the particles, it goes into the NOx cata-
    of cars that soot. Though the Danish Road        lytic converter to purify nitrogen oxides. The
    Trafc Act states that vehicles may not “pol-    purication system can, however, be used to
    lute unnecessarily”, it has not been until       adjust the motor to produce a high level of
    January 2003 that the police has been di-        NOx emissions and a low level of particle
    rected to conduct such checks according to       emissions as these are complementary and
    EU regulations. The way regulations are ad-      when one emission is great, the other is
    ministered in Denmark control of emissions       low. Yet it has not yet been established that
    will solely be carried out upon inspection       such an adjustment combined with a cat-
    of heavy vehicles in cooperation with the        alytic converter can provide an 80% emis-
    Danish Car Inspection. The effect would be       sion reduction, also for the ultrane parti-
    greater if the trafc police stopped vehicles    cles. Thus, such a catalytic converter should
    emitting black exhaust and sent them to be       be combined with a particle lter.
                                                     (2) The third largest city in Denmark with ap-
    The Odense trial showed that several refuse      proximately 200,000 inhabitants
    collection trucks had problems with the l-      (3) Denmark’s second largest city
    ters because they did not warm up enough
    to burn the particles collected in the lters.    Especially two test schemes for particle
    Nevertheless, this problem seems to stem          traps are used internationally
    from choosing the wrong lters or because         The Vert-list from Switzerland: http://www.
    the trucks were ill maintained. If the trucks
    do not soot extraordinarily, then a ve to        fachgebiet/e/industrie/lterliste_01_03_04_e.pdf
    six kilometre drive at normal speed once a        The Energy Savings Trust list from the UK:
    day should be sufcient to insure that the
    particles are incinerated. This would typi-       TransportEnergyCleanUpRegister.pdf
    cally be when the truck drives to the incin-
    eration plant after collecting the refuse.        The Vert-list only tests the properties of the
                                                      lters themselves. It also tells for which kind
    Finally, the Odense trail also showed that        of vehicles and machines they can be used,
    tting lters on the motors does not in-          but this is only based on information from the
    crease fuel consumption, as had been              manufacturer. The UK list also tests the lters
    claimed. In other words, there are no tech-       in different kinds of vehicles and machines.
    nical arguments against the use of lters.        In general if your vehicle runs at a relatively
    However, maintenance of the vehicles is           high exhaust temperature, above approximately
    crucial. This is the responsibility of car        300 oC, you can use a catalytic diesel parti-
    owners and carriers, though random checks         culate lter. If your vehicle runs at a lower
    should be carried out in order to ensure          temperature, for instance a waste collection
    compliance. Furthermore, independent tests        vehicle, you will normally need a lter adapted
    should be carried out on the lters. The          for fuel with an additive (ferro- or cerium).
    Danish Road Safety and Transport Agency
    has issued a principle approval scheme for        Concerning regulations and test schemes in
    particulate lters for this purpose.              different countries, see

8                          The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004
        Demands on vehicles and diesel oil

The EU has adopted more stringent de-             The Ecological Council has since 1997
mands on particle emissions from heavy            contributed to a public pressure in order
diesel vehicles called Euro IV. However,          to place the issue of small particles from
they do not come into force until 2006 and        trafc high up on the political agenda in
apply only to new vehicles. It is therefore       Denmark. In 1998, the Danish government,
necessary to add 10-12 years, which is the        supported by a couple of other parties,
average lifespan of heavy vehicles. Further-      agreed on a compromise that changed the
more, the EU solely sets demands on parti-        tax on diesel such that the tax on diesel
cle mass and not on particle counts. This         fuel with less than 50 ppm of sulphur was
means that producers can meet demands by          lowered by DKK 0.09 (1.3 Euro cent). This
tting a catalytic converter and combine it       caused diesel to be replaced with low sul-
with adjusting the motor, and we do not           phur diesel (max. 50 ppm) on the entire
know whether this will only remove the            Danish market (except agriculture and cer-
largest of particles, see above. Therefore,       tain other sectors). This unambiguously il-
these demands should be extended and in-          lustrates how potent an instrument green
clude demands on particle counts as soon          taxes can be. According to calculations, low
as possible. Thus far, this has been rejected     sulphur diesel should reduce particle emis-
due to the lack of a measuring method;            sions by 13% when analysed as particle
yet such a method was selected in 2003            weight. The reduction is even higher (ap-
and is now scheduled to be tested. Until          proximately 50%) when measuring particle
EU regulations become more stringent, it is       counts, as apparently the reduction of the
up to the member countries themselves to          smallest particles is the largest. Further-
encourage the use of particle lters, even        more, it also eased the introduction of parti-
when the above-mentioned catalytic con-           cle lters, some of which can tolerate very
verters are used.                                 little sulphur.

Regarding private cars and smaller vans,          Today, it is possible to tighten up demands
the coming demands (Euro IV) are less             on sulphur contents even more - to 10 ppm
stringent in relation to particles and will not   - which again would decrease emissions as
demand lters. This will rst be required         well as encourage improvements on certain
at the next level (Euro V), but negotiations      types of lters. Germany and Sweden has
hereon have only just begun and it will           changed their diesel tax so as to support
probably not come into effect before 2010.        the use of diesel with max 10 ppm sulphur
Thus, it will take many years until lters        and Switzerland joined in the beginning of
are tted in all heavy diesel vehicles and        2004. The remaining EU countries should
even longer in regards to light vehicles.         follow their example at the earliest possible
Considering the serious health hazard in-         date. The Danish government has thus so
volved, we cannot wait that long. The EU          far been reluctant to follow suit because
decides demands on vehicle emissions and          of its tax freeze decision, which was in-
we cannot directly make demands more              troduced at its accession in 2001. A dif-
stringent than those of the EU. But what we       ferentiation of taxes would either contradict
can do is to support the lters by means of       the freeze-if the tax on 50 ppm diesel was
green taxes and subsidies.                        increased-or result in a loss in revenue-if
                                                  the tax on 10 ppm diesel was decreased.

                               Diesel particles - a health hazard                                  9
     Because a total change in market, as seen            low levels of sulphur has to be accessible
     in neighbouring countries, is expected, it is        on the market by 2005. However, the fact
     necessary to increase the tax on 50 ppm              that the decrease to 10 ppm must not be
     diesel in order to prevent a loss in revenue.        fully implemented until 2009 has not been
     But in October 2003 the Danish govern-               taken into account.
     ment contemplates negotiating with the oil
     companies concerning a differentiation that          The EU has passed a change in the directive
     can ensure the introduction of diesel with           on sulphur contents of petrol and diesel,
     low levels of sulphur; this could be seen as         which demands that member countries have
     a change in course. However, the end result          to offer diesel fuel with a sulphur content
     is still uncertain. The government bases its         of max. 10 ppm on the market, and from
     assessment on a cost-benet analysis indi-           2009 the sulphur content in all diesel oil
     cating that it only “pays off” to make a             in the EU has to be less than 10 ppm. As
     differentiation of taxes of 0.016 DKK (2.3           previously mentioned, however, there is no
     Euro cent) per litre of diesel oil-seen in           reason for waiting that long, as the transi-
     relation to the number of lives that can             tion can already be carried through today
     be saved by decreasing pollution. This is            with the help of economic measures.
     based upon the assumption that the advance
     would only be for one year, as diesel with

     All vehicles using diesel or gasoline emit the hazardous ultrane particles. Gasoline cars emit
     much less than diesel vehicles. Installation of a particle lter will reduce emission of the hazardous
     particles by 80-90%.

10                            The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004
                          Non-road vehicles

Like private diesel cars, also the so-called    follow up on non-roadbound vehicles until
non-road vehicles lack behind in terms          later. They will thus rst impose more strin-
of emission reduction. This concerns trac-      gent demands on non-roadbound machines
tors, harvesters, locomotives, contractor’s     gradually in 2011 to 2014.
machinery, etc. An EU directive imposing
more strict demands on these vehicles is        In decreasing particle emissions from heavy
presently being negotiated in regards to        vehicles in the EU, emissions from non-
emissions of, for example, particles. The       roadbound vehicles will become increas-
directive, however, has an even longer time     ingly signicant. According to calculations,
frame, namely until 2010-and it has even        particles from non-road vehicles already
been suggested to delay it further. Because     correspond to 42% of all road trafc emis-
the market for such machines is global, the     sions and, if these emissions are not re-
EU wants to harmonise the market, espe-         duced, they will surpass particle emissions
cially in regards to American legislation.      from road trafc by 2020. However, most
The Americans, on the other hand, operate       emissions from non-road vehicles occur
with very long time frames because of the       outside cities and the health hazard is there-
high level of sulphur in their diesel oil and   fore less than that of ordinary road trafc.
the government do not nd it feasible to        If the United States does not wish to harmo-
lower these levels quicker than what has        nise standards, it will have to accept that
already been decided. And here we are only      it will not have free access to export these
talking about lowering the level to 50 ppm      machines to European markets, at least for
of sulphur, which has been a requirement in     a period of time. There are good prospects
Denmark since 1998, see above. The Unit-        of having such legislation ratied by the
ed States will introduce low-level sulphur      WTO because of the solid documentation
diesel for road trafc in 2007, but will not    on the health hazards caused by particles.

                                                                       Figure: contractor’s

                                                                       Particle emissions from
                                                                       harvesters, contractor’s
                                                                       machinery, tractors, lo-
                                                                       comotives, etc.-called
                                                                       non-road vehicles-will,
                                                                       if not limited, represent
                                                                       an increasingly larger
                                                                       share, as emissions
                                                                       from heavy vehicles are

                             Diesel particles - a health hazard                                    11
        Voluntary introduction of particle lters

     Following the introduction of low sulphur       stitutions offering for example haulage,
     diesel, some of the Danish transport compa-     waste collection, conveyance of patients
     nies, especially among bus companies and        and disabled, school buses, as well as con-
     refuse collection operators, have introduced    struction work using diesel-powered con-
     particle lters voluntarily. More specical-    tractor’s machines, should demand lters.
     ly, the HUR (4) (Public Transport Company       Given the total number of diesel vehicles
     of the Copenhagen Metropolitan Region)          in Denmark, exceedingly few have particle
     now imposes the condition whenever new          lters today.
     tenders are invited for bus transport con-
     tracts that all new diesel busses have to       Germany is presently introducing a road
     have particle lters tted, and the contrac-    tax for heavy vehicles. This tax will be dif-
     tor is paid extra if lters are retrotted on   ferentiated such that vehicles living up to
     older busses. Also, several waste collection    Euro IV requirements-i.e. cars with particle
     companies, for example in Copenhagen and        lters-are required to pay a smaller fee. It is
     in Aarhus, have tted lters on many of         estimated that a Danish export truck driving
     their trucks.                                   through Germany will often have to pay
                                                     approximately 12,000 Euro per year in road
     All public institutions should follow the       taxes. If the truck complies with Euro IV
     above-mentioned example and incorporate         requirements, it saves approximately 2,000
     it as part of their green purchasing policy;    Euro per year. Thus, it is considerably prof-
     it should include its carpool as well as be-    itable to t a lter on such a truck. Though
     ing a requirement when inviting tenders         the German road tax should have been im-
     for transportation tasks. Other public in-      plemented during the autumn of 2003, it
                                                     has been postponed due to technical dif-
                                                     culties. It is expected to be implemented
                                                     during 2004.

                                                     (4) HUR covers Copenhagen and three neigh-
                                                     bouring counties with a total of 1.8 million in-

                                                     A photo of a waste collection truck with a lter
                                                     Quite a few road transport companies have
                                                     had particle lters tted on their busses and
                                                     waste collection trucks, often encouraged by the
                                                     municipality or transport authorities that set
                                                     demands in their tender documents.

12                          The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004
The proposal of the Danish Ecological Council

 We have proposed the Danish government           metres per year. At the same time, the pro-
 and Parliament (the Folketing) to introduce      posal is merely putting the polluter pays
 a tax scheme on diesel vehicles without          principle into practice-a tax which could
 particle lters, the revenue of which should     be collected without breaking the govern-
 be used for subsidising the tting of particle   ment’s tax freeze-much in the same way as
 lters-in other words, a model according to      the municipalities can increase the waste-
 the “Polluter Pays Principle”. The Council       water tax whenever treatment plants or
 has prepared a calculation example with a        sewage pipes have to be renovated.
 realistic tax that enables a 50% subsidy for
 the installation of particle lters in 48,000    As for private cars that could use petrol as
 diesel vehicles annually, the equivalent of      well, the tax proposed would have the posi-
 about 13% of all Danish diesel vehicles or       tive effect of making fewer car-owners opt
 16% if private cars are not included in the      for diesel until more diesel-powered models
 calculation (see the box below).                 with lters are available on the market.

 It should be noted that EU regulations on        We propose that subsidies are given to both
 state subsidies are limited to 30% on envi-      new and existing diesel vehicles. It should
 ronmental ttings. However, we choose to         be ensured that the subsidy does not help
 interpret this proposal not as a subsidy, but    maintain an overcharge on lters. We pro-
 as a fee that -according to the “polluter pays   pose that the subsidy gradually phases out
 principle”- is charged car owners.               by 15 percentage points each year, thus cre-
                                                  ating an incentive to install lters as quick-
 The tax is charged to diesel vehicles with-      ly as possible. The subsidy will thus be zero
 out lters. Gas-powered vehicles will nor-       for new vehicles by the time the EU direc-
 mally be able to comply. We propose an           tive will be in effect in 2006. The subsidy
 increase of the Danish green ownership tax       should be phased out more gradually on
 (5) on diesel-powered private cars as well       existing cars, for example by ve percent-
 as of the weight duty on lorries, vans and       age points annually.
 busses, resulting in a total revenue of Euro
 156 million per year. This encompasses an        Estimated number of diesel vehicles in
 increase of approximately Euro 200 annu-         Denmark:
 ally for private cars, Euro 270 for small
                                                  Private cars, incl. taxi cabs      90.000
 vans, and Euro 470 for busses and lorries.
 In practice, the levy scale would probably       Vans below two tonnes              12.000
 need more differentiation so the rates indi-     Vans and lorries above 2 t.       271.000
 cated should rather be seen to reect the
 order of magnitude of the tax. The revenue       Above 3.5 t.                       45.000
 generated of Euro 156 million annually           Buses                                8.000
 could then be used to subsidise particle
 lters. The increase of tax would be per-        (5) An annual ownership tax on private cars. It
 ceived as reasonable, the owners of diesel       was formally called ‘weight duty’ since it was
 vehicles have been given preferential treat-     based on the vehicles weight, but since 1998
 ment for quite some years in regards             it is based on the car’s fuel economy and was
 to taxation when they drive many kilo-           therefore renamed ‘green ownership tax’. Other
                                                  vehicles still pay the ‘weight duty’.

                               Diesel particles - a health hazard                                   13
             Duties and cross-frontier shopping
     Another solution could be to combine a             companies registering in other countries, for
     smaller increase in the green ownership tax        example Danish transport companies regis-
     and the weight duty with a slight increase in      tering in Luxembourg or a similar country
     the tax on diesel oil. In principle, it is also    where both duties and company taxes are
     possible merely to increase the tax on diesel      low. Yet we do not believe that a tax of
     (a bit more). However, we need to keep in          Euro 470 per year is of any consequence,
     mind that Denmark would be quite sensitive         compared to the book depreciation of heavy
     to cross-boarder shopping, and an increase         vehicles purchased at some Euro 130.000
     could risk producing negative revenue. The         in initial cost. The claim also falls to the
     Danish tax on diesel, however, lies just be-       ground if, as proposed earlier, the weight
     low that of Germany for commercial vehi-           duty is slightly increased in combination
     cles, a fact that is difcult to defend seen       with an increase in the tax on diesel. It
     from an environmental point of view. Thus,         should be noted that the Danish weight duty
     it is possible to make room for an increase        today is equivalent to the EU’s minimal rate.
     in the Danish diesel tax without resulting in      Faced with the issue of registering abroad,
     cross-frontier shopping to Germany.                we should press for common minimum tax-
     Moreover, we will undoubtedly see claims           es, working environment codes, etc. within
     that an increase of the Danish weight duty         the EU, so other EU countries cannot under-
     will intensify the present trend of transport      cut and thus offer a “ag of convenience”.

                           A green registration fee
     Upon the purchase of a new car, a registration     introduced when appointed. At the same time,
     fee is paid based upon the value of the car-       the redistribution would also cause a reduc-
     contrary to the green ownership tax, which         tion in total fuel consumption, which in turn
     has replaced the weight duty on private cars,      would result in a reduction of revenue for the
     and which is differentiated according to fuel      state. Due to the tax freeze, this revenue could
     consumption. The Danish administration has         not be generated elsewhere! In other words,
     for quite some time discussed a proposal for       the government follows a rigid interpretation
     a green registration fee that takes into con-      of the tax freeze, which blocks environmen-
     sideration both fuel consumption and particle      tally friendly adjustments. This is despite the
     emission. One of the two government parties,       fact that the government proclaimed in 2001
     the Conservative People’s Party, also included     that the “tax freeze will…not be a hindrance
     this issue in their party programme during the     to any necessary alterations regarding taxes”,
     2001 elections. However, when the Danish           including “if introductions of new taxes or
     Ministry of Taxation presented a report on the     increases in duties is desired based upon en-
     issue, the government chose not to amend the       vironmental considerations”-as long as other
     registration fee. Differentiating the fee would    taxes are decreased accordingly.
     result in an increased expense for polluting       Differentiation of the registration fee should
     vehicles, yet would represent a decrease for       be implemented as soon as possible due to the
     those emitting less. Apparently, the govern-       particle emission situation, etc. Furthermore,
     ment feared that this increase for the polluting   the green ownership tax should be revised
     vehicles would be perceived as a breach of         so that it not only takes into account fuel
     faith in regards to the tax freeze that they       consumption but also particle emission.

14                           The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004
                        Environmental zones
A new Danish act that came into force on          Our proposal for a combined tax and subsi-
01.06.2000, has enabled the introduction of       dy scheme would be a good supplement to
environmental zones in town centres. This         introducing environmental zones. In prac-
means that municipal authorities can en-          tice, it is hardly realistic for any munic-
force more stringent demands on vehicles          ipality to introduce environmental zones
wishing to enter the city’s most vulnerable       with mandatory particle lters if not under-
areas. Though trials of this nature can nor-      pinned by a tax-cum-subsidy scheme. That
mally only run for a one-year period, it          would create a tremendous pressure from
can be extended insofar as the evaluation         companies based within the zone, both road
shows that there is a basis for implement-        transport companies and other rms, since
ing the arrangement permanently. The big          their access to choosing between transport-
city municipalities could use this instru-        ers and suppliers would be restricted.
ment for dening urban zones in which
diesel vehicles are only allowed if tted         If environmental zones are allowed to stand
with lters. That would very specically          alone, they will merely amount to letting
encourage owners of vehicles that drive in        the state/parliament wash their hands and
the town centres to apply for subsidies and       pass the buck to the urban municipalities.
have lters installed. This would, however,       But a tax-cum-subsidy scheme would make
require a clear declaration that the arrange-     a potent incentive for road transport compa-
ment does not merely run for a one-year           nies to have lters installed while also mak-
trial period.                                     ing the lters nancially feasible for them.

                                                  The Municipality of Copenhagen is plan-
Pamphlet on particle lters from the Municipal-   ning to introduce environmental zoning in
ity of Copenhagen                                 the centre at the beginning of 2005. The
                                                  Ministry of Justice has to ratify the trial be-
                                                  fore it can begin. The municipality has sub-
                                                  mitted the proposal for a two-year trial pe-
                                                  riod, but the negotiations have as yet (Janu-
                                                  ary 2004) not terminated.

                                                  A couple of years ago, Stockholm intro-
                                                  duced their version of an environmental
                                                  zone. However, foreign-owned vehicles are
                                                  exempted from the rigorous demands on
                                                  emissions after the EU Commission has
                                                  threatened to declare the zoning inconsist-
                                                  ent with the Internal Market.

                                                  Furthermore, in 1999, the Municipality of
                                                  Copenhagen decided the following:
                                                  • All new diesel vehicles purchased after
                                                    01.01.2000 must have particle lters
                                                  • All existing vehicles must have lters ret-
                                                    rotted by 01.01.2003 if it is environmen-

                               Diesel particles - a health hazard                                   15
       tally sensible                                • Vehicles that are used for many short
     • By 01.01.2003, the public administrations       drives, i.e. where the emission tempera-
       must ensure that all rms, with whom            ture is constantly low
       they enter into agreements with, use par-     Experiences like the Odense trial (see
       ticle lters on those cars used for munici-   above) show, however, that the last-men-
       pal transport. These demands must be          tioned exception-which especially compris-
       stated clearly in tender documents, con-      es waste collection-is not necessary if the
       tracts, etc.                                  correct lter is tted.
                                                     The municipality, however, has not been
     The last condition includes the transport
                                                     able to keep to the time limits mentioned
     of waste, utilities, maintenance, roads &
                                                     above. The City Council and its Technol-
     parks (snow clearing, street clearing, etc.),
                                                     ogy and Environmental Committee have as
     taxi driving, delivery of goods, and so on.
                                                     per March 2003 decided that each of the
     Thus, it incorporates all the different ad-
                                                     administrations has to have a plan of action
     ministrations of the municipality.
                                                     concerning particle lters on their vehicles.
     The Environmental Protection Agency of          At the same time, the above-mentioned re-
     Copenhagen (the environmental adminis-          quirements were limited to include only ve-
     tration of the municipality) published a        hicles that are larger than 3.5 tonnes. A
     guide to the administrations in 2000. The       new time limit was also set for retrotting
     guide gives a denition of “environmen-         lters on existing heavy vehicles until the
     tally sensible” which allow the following       01.04.2004. On 20.10.2003, the Committee
     exceptions:                                     decided that the administrations must nish
     • Vehicles that drive less than 2-3,000 km      their plans of action by 01.01.2004 and
       per year                                      that they have to hand in a status report
                                                     on the tting of lters by 01.05.2004. The
     • Vehicles that are more than ten years old
                                                     City Council will discuss the reports before
       and have a high consumption of lubricat-
                                                     summer 2004.
       ing oil

          The interdepartmental task force 2001

     A working group with representatives from       concludes that a subsidy covering 50% of
     four Danish ministries (with the secretariat    the expenses would only create an incen-
     being placed in the Road Safety and Trans-      tive for very few carriers to t lters on
     port Agency) presented a report in June         their vehicles. On the other hand, the report
     2001. The report examines different means       states that, in order for the carriers to t
     of promoting the use of particle lters,        lters on their vehicles, the tax would have
     among others through taxation and subsi-        to be increased to such a level that it will
     dies. The report is most in favour of using     inhibit competition. Yet there are no con-
     subsidies, though without proposing how         crete proposals on how to create an incen-
     these should be nanced. The report only        tive by combining the two.
     supercially relates to the possibility of      Furthermore, the report has a very strict
     combining taxes and subsidies, as described     way of applying cost-benet analyses in
     earlier. On the one hand, the working group     considering whether or not such an inter-

16                          The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004
vention is “worth it”. An estimation of an-      But the working group deduces that the 22
nual early deaths and health damages that        deaths are more probable than the 1,000
could be prevented by using particle lters      deaths, i.e. that the size of the particles
is given. Next, the report sets a price on       is probably irrelevant, contrary to previous
these lives stated in hard currency and com-     evaluations made in Denmark as well as in-
pares this to the price of particle lters.      ternationally. The 1,000 lives saved should
By referring to scientic uncertainty, the       be compared to the 1,250 lives that the
authors depict a lower limit of 22 early         Danish research group from 2002 arrived at
deaths and an upper limit of 1,000. The          (see above on page 2).
lower limit of 22 deaths is built upon the       In addition, the report operates with an unu-
assumption (which is highly improbable)          sual low price per life lost, namely Euro
that small and big particles have the same       200,000. The rate that is often used in this
effect. Should this be the case, emissions       type of analysis is approximately Euro 1
from diesel vehicles would only account          million. On account of these distorted de-
for a small part of the deaths caused by         ductions, the working group concludes that
particle emission. According to the investi-     it is not worth it to introduce a sufciently
gation, approximately 25% of PM10 (parti-        large differentiation of duties and subsidies
cles less than 10 micrometers) come from         to motivate car owners and carriers to in-
trafc emissions, as do approximately 60%        stall lters.
of the ultra-ne particles. The problem is       Apart from the distorted deductions, it is
that the assumptions are often based upon        also questionable whether or not it is pos-
data on PM10 because there are only few          sible to justify a decision regarding the re-
measurements on ultra-ne particles back         duction of particle emissions based on the
in time. But as PM10 is based upon weight,       price in Euro of life and health damages.
the bigger particles account for much more       For example, the decreased welfare of an
than the ultra-ne particles. Insofar as it is   asthmatic patient has more personal costs,
assumed, as most researchers do, that the        and the like, than pure economic costs for
ultra-ne particles are the most hazardous,      the sanitation authorities.
then 1,000 early deaths would seem a more
probable scenario than 22 deaths.

   Report from the Environmental Assess-
               ment Institute
In 2002, the Danish Environmental Assess-        researchers. Furthermore, IMV calculates
ment Institute (IMV) presented a report that     with a couple of price options on a “statisti-
attempts to calculate whether it is socio-       cal life”. Under the assumption that life
economically benecial to retrot particle       is rated high (see above), the IMV con-
lters, i.e. an investigation similar to the     cludes that it is socio-economically bene-
report mentioned above from 2001. Con-           cial to retrot lters on heavy diesel vehi-
trary to the governmental report, IMV con-       cles, while IMV is unsure about the benets
siders the ultra-ne particles to be the most    reaped by retrotting vans.
hazardous, in agreement with most other

                              Diesel particles - a health hazard                                  17
            The particles task force report, 2003
     The Danish government nished a task force          with lter is decreased-while revenue-neutral
     report on the problem of particles in June          models, where duties are increased on vehi-
     2003. This report has disregarded the as-           cles without lters and decreased for those
     sumption from 2001 that only 22 early deaths        with, are paid no heed to. Though not men-
     would be sparred. Instead, 450 early deaths         tioned, it is probable that this is not taken into
     are considered probable (please see the intro-      account because it is viewed as being con-
     duction of the pamphlet). Furthermore, dif-         trary to the tax freeze policy of the govern-
     ferent possible means are considered in pro-        ment, mentioned previously. In conclusion,
     moting particle lters. Yet, the statement con-     the report does not recommend any direct
     cludes that subsidies do not bring forth the        initiatives on a national level. It is merely
     desired effect. Differentiated taxes is still re-   positive in regards to municipalities that wish
     jected because it is believed that it will result   to introduce environmental zones, and it un-
     in loss of revenue as the tax on vehicles           derlines the need for more information.

             The government’s subsidy scheme
     The Danish government-a minority govern-            With prices averaging Euro 7,000 for tting
     ment-made an agreement with two other               lters on heavy vehicles, there will be
     parties of the right wing in Spring 2003 to         enough to subsidise 1,000 vehicles per
     grant a total of Euro 4 million over a two-         year-not taking into account expenses for
     year period to support the tting of particle       the administration of the scheme. This
     lters. The compromise can be perceived             equals 2.5 per thousand of the diesel-pow-
     as a result of the pressure to abate the prob-      ered eet of cars, or 2% of all heavy diesel
     lems caused by particles. The contribution,         vehicles. This should be compared to the
     however, is far too little to truly make a dif-     Ecological Council’s proposal of subsidis-
     ference. The amount promised has yet not            ing 48,000 vehicles per year-even with a
     been implemented as a concrete scheme,              50% subsidy-corresponding to one-eighth
     though the plan is to offer a 30% subsidy.          of the whole diesel-powered eet of cars.

                      The need for political action
     This pamphlet depicts an applicable techni-         multaneously, the registration fee as well
     cal solution to the serious health hazard that      as the green ownership tax should be differ-
     small particles represent. However, it re-          entiated according to the particle emission
     quires more political determination and ac-         level of each vehicle model. The diesel oil
     tion than what has yet been seen. The Eco-          tax should also be differentiated to encour-
     logical Council recommends that the Dan-            age the market to buy diesel with low-level
     ish Parliament adopts the proposal to subsi-        sulphur - max 10 ppm of sulphur.
     dise particle lters, nancing it with a small      Initiatives to promote particle lters should
     increase in the diesel oil tax and the weight       not be limited to cover only heavy vehicles,
     duty of diesel vehicles without lters. Si-         as is seen presently with the government’s

18                            The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004
subsidy scheme and the plans for introduc-      also has great importance in connection to
ing environmental zoning in Copenhagen.         the greenhouse effect. In solving the prob-
Especially the smaller vans contribute to       lems of particle emission-as well as re-
a large (and increasing) extent to particle     ducing nitrogen oxide emissions-everything
pollution. In several EU countries, private     speaks in favour of a transition towards die-
diesel-powered cars also contribute consid-     sel power, also for new private cars. Chang-
erably.                                         ing from petrol to diesel saves 25-30% on
Pressure should also be placed on the EU        fuel consumption and all new cars that have
to ensure a speedy introduction of stringent    low fuel consumption (for example the VW
norms for particle emissions from private       Lupo) are diesel powered. This-along with
cars as well as non-road vehicles such as       trafc limiting measures-could decrease the
tractors, locomotives, contractor’s machin-     excessive emission of CO2 while we wait
ery, etc. The introduction of particle lters   for the hydrogen car.

                        Want to know more?
• M.Wrang, O. Hertel, F. Palmgreen, P.Wåhlin, O.Rosschou-Nielsen, S.Loft: Helbredsef-
  fekter af trakrelaterede ultrane partikler, Ugeskrift for Læger, 19.8.02. (The Effect of
  Trafc-related Ultra-ne Particles on Health-in Danish)
• Danish National Environmental Research Institute: The State of the Environment in
  Denmark, 2001,
• Denmark’s Road Safety and Transport Agency: Large-scale Research on Particle Filters
  for Heavy Diesel-powered Vehicles in Odense, 2002 (In Danish and English)
• Denmark’s Road Safety and Transport Agency: Partikelltre fra tunge køretøjer - rapport
  fra en arbejdsgruppe, 2001. Available at (Particle lters on heavy vehi-
  cles-a report from a working group-in Danish)
• Ministry of Transport: Partikelredegørelse, 2003. Available at (Taskforce
  report concerning particles-in Danish)
• Danish Environmental Protection Agency: Sundhedsmæssig vurdering af luftforurening
  fra vejtrak, Miljøprojekt nr. 352, 1997. Available at (Assessment of Health
  Effects by Ttrafc-related Air Pollution-in Danish with an English summary)
• Health Costs due to Road Trafc-related Air Pollution, Seethaler et al., Federal Depart-
  ment of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications, Bern, Switzerland as well
  as WHO, regional ofce of Europe, 1999, (Study of Switzerland, France and Austria),
  and The Lancet, August 2000
• The Danish Ecological Council: A proposal for introducing particle lters through green
  taxes and subsidies, as well as press releases and articles about the diesel particle
  problem. Available at (partly in Danish)
• Environmental Assessment Institute: Partikelltre på tunge dieselkøretøjer, 2002. Avail-
  able at (Particle lters on heavy diesel-powered vehicles-in Danish)
• Diesel pollution in India. Available at

                              Diesel particles - a health hazard                                19
               Diesel particles - a health hazard

     To all appearances, small particles belong to the pollutants presenting the big-
     gest health hazards. Particles come especially from diesel-powered vehicles.
     According to researchers, particles cause thousands of early deaths each year
     in the big cities in Denmark alone, and up to 1,250 of these deaths could be
     prevented by tting particle lters on diesel-powered vehicles. That is more
     than deaths caused by trafc accidents. Especially the elderly are affected.
     In addition, the small particles seem to aggravate asthma incidences, includ-
     ing the many children with asthma. What makes the small particles so very
     dangerous is that they can enter the smallest of vessels of the lungs.
     There is a solution within sight to this grave health hazard. The solution is
     called particle lters, but they will not come automatically. It requires initiatives
     in the form of legislation, green taxes and subsidies. The EU is introducing
     stricter regulations regarding particle emission from heavy vehicles from 2006,
     though only for new vehicles. It will therefore take many years to abate the
     problem this way.
     In the present pamphlet, the Danish Ecological Council offers a number
     of specic proposals on how to further the introduction of lters on diesel
     vehicles. The Danish government has taken a small step in the right direction
     by establishing a subsidy scheme for particle lters. Yet the amount allocated
     is too small and, because it is not followed up by setting taxes on polluting
     vehicles, it will have little effect.

                                                 Tomorrow’s Environment is Created Today
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20                        The Danish Ecological Council - August 2004

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