Diesel Particulates and Ireland

In recent years, there has been increased concerns over diesel-particle exposure in Ireland with an estimated  “1,148 deaths in 2011” related to the harmful pollutants [SOURCE]. Recent studies that suggest that there may also be an association between specific neurological diseases (Alzheimer’s) and exposure to tiny magnetic particles that are released during the combustion process. Researchers believe that the potential of a “causal link” is one we “cannot afford to ignore”.

Almost two decades ago in 1998 – the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) conducted research to assess the health implications of exposure to diesel exhaust particulates – quantifying the link between lung cancer and long term exposure to diesel exhaust [SOURCE].

Diesel exhaust is produced when an engine burns diesel fuel. It is a complex mixture of thousands of gases and fine particles (commonly known as soot) that contains more than 40 toxic air contaminants. These include many known or suspected cancer-causing substances, such as benzene, arsenic and formaldehyde. It also contains other harmful pollutants, including nitrogen oxides (a component of urban smog).”

What concerns many NGO’s is that urban
smog, heavy industry transportation routes, as well as poor regulation and commitment to the reduction of diesel pollutants is only adding to the already increasing number of individuals with cancer. In Ireland, because of a lack of regulation – many garages and even “Exhaust specialists” offer services to remove Diesel Particulate Filters (DPF). Although many garages “do not recommend the removal of DPF’s” – they none the less offer the service.

dpf

[SOURCE

From “Diesel exhaust and many individual substances contained in it (including arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde and nickel) have the potential to contribute to mutations in cells that can lead to cancer. In fact, long-term exposure to diesel exhaust particles poses the highest cancer risk of any toxic air contaminant evaluated by OEHHA. ARB estimates that about 70 percent of the cancer risk that the average Californian faces from breathing toxic air pollutants stems from diesel exhaust particles.”

With many of Dublin schools being situated nearby roads that are utilized by an ever growing transportation industry (Dublin Docks) – it is important to assess Ireland commitment to tackling the issue of long term exposure and regulatory compliance.

diesel_schools_dublin

With lung cancer being leading cause of cancer mortality in Ireland (20% of all cancer deaths) – increased regulation surrounding diesel exhaust and vehicle standards should be implemented given the proximity of heavy industry and heavy motor vehicle operation in Ireland. The Irish times [SOURCE] documented Ireland abysmal record of meeting international standards for pollution standards. The article highlights research by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), which shows the nitrogen-oxide emission levels of “modern diesel engines are as much as seven-times higher than the limit allowed for in the current Euro 6 missions regulations”; furthermore, a 2015 report by “The World Health Organisation has estimated that 500,000 premature deaths were attributable to air pollution in 2012 across Europe”. [SOURCE]

2015dublin_port_tade_stats.pngTEU stands for “Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit” – your standard 20 feet long, 8 feet tall shipping container [SOURCE]

With lung cancer being leading cause of cancer mortality in Ireland (20% of all cancer deaths) – increased regulation surrounding diesel exhaust and vehicle standards should be implemented given the proximity of heavy industry and heavy motor vehicle operation in Ireland. The Irish times [SOURCE] documented Ireland abysmal record of meeting international standards for pollution standards. The article highlights research by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), which shows the nitrogen-oxide emission levels of “modern diesel engines are as much as seven-times higher than the limit allowed for in the current Euro 6 missions regulations”; furthermore, a 2015 report by “The World Health Organisation has estimated that 500,000 premature deaths were attributable to air pollution in 2012 across Europe”. [SOURCE]

Image result for China air pollution

A look to the future? Air Pollution in China

Furthermore, it is important that this is an issue that effects everyone. We need not but look to countries like China to see the extreme example that is representative of the issue at hand. Just because we can’t see it [yet] doesn’t mean it’s not there. Beyond those located near roads and indeed the operators of the vehicles themselves, the issue of pollution and the rate at which it is being tackled continues to be addressed as non-priority issue.

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