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New cat’s eye-style filters could tackle pollution

Cat's eye toxic air filters

The war on toxic air pollution is yielding some clever ideas. The latest is suction fans embedded in the road in the same manner as cat’s eye reflectors. These would be hooked up to a filtration system to clean the air.

The idea is that low energy fans installed in the road can quite literally suck toxic air into piping. That would then feed into a filter unit at the side of the road. It’d be around the size of a large bin.

Cat's eye toxic air filters

Areas to benefit the most from this would be junctions with lots of stationary traffic. The system is being developed by Hertfordshire-based company Pollution Solution.

The company claims it could remove at least 30 percent of toxic pollutants from the air. That includes engine pollution like nitrogen oxide, as well as brake and tyre particulates. The air that leaves the filter ‘bins’ is said to be 99 percent clean. The company says the system can run mostly on solar power, triggering only when it senses cars have stopped.

Initial trials of the technology could take place in problem pollution areas in East London. Engine idling hotspots would be targeted. School pick-up and drop-off areas, busy junctions and pedestrian crossings are cited as ideal places to start.

Pollution Solution founder Thomas Delgado is realistic about what can be achieved with the technology and the specific areas where it will be most effective. With that said, he’s also clear that this or something to the effect of cleaning air quality is necessary now, given the estimated 40,000 premature deaths per year that can be linked to air pollution.

‘Electric cars are great’

Cat's eye toxic air filters

Delgado said: “This is only going to be effective at busy junctions but all the information we have is that those hotspots are the areas that really need to be tackled.

“Electric cars are great but as it stands today, they are not a feasible option for the majority of consumers or companies and air quality needs to improve now.

“There are talks of banning the sale of fossil-fuelled vehicles by the year 2040 but if we don’t take steps in the interim it is inevitable that people will die unnecessarily.”

Dirty vehicles to be banned from Geneva

Dirty vehicles to be banned from Geneva

A new environmental zone will see the dirtiest vehicles banned from the centre of Geneva, Switzerland, and the surrounding area.

From 15 January 2020, a temporary zone will be activated when air pollution in the Swiss city is at its highest. It will be operational from 6am until 10pm.

Vehicles will be measured on their environmental performance and must display one of six coloured Stick’Air vignettes. Green is for zero emission vehicles, while grey is for the least environmentally friendly cars. The emergency services and drivers with disabilities are exempt from the scheme.

Initially, vehicles displaying the grey vignette will be banned from the environmental zone during the period of peak pollution. If the smog persists, the ban will extend to vehicles showing the brown sticker, then orange, yellow and purple.

The stickers cost 5 Swiss francs (£4) and are valid for the life of the vehicle. Drivers who do not display a vignette or enter the city during the smog alert will be fined 500 francs (£400). Commercial vehicles will be granted a two-year transitional period to comply with the new law.

Under the regulations, the authorities could also introduce an 80km/h (50mph) speed limit on surrounding motorways, free public transport to encourage locals and tourists to leave their cars at home, and a ban on outdoor fires.

Geneva clean air stickers

‘Right to breathe healthy air’

Antonio Hodgers, a Geneva councillor, said: “We have adopted a compromise between economic freedom and the right to breathe healthy air.”

Nearly 500,000 people live in the canton of Geneva, with around 200,000 people living in the city. This is the first environmental zone of its kind in the country, although Geneva’s proximity to France and Italy, plus the fact that it is home to more than 130 multinational companies, makes it a particularly high profile case.

It also plays host to a major international motor show

The stickers can be purchased from council offices and petrol stations. More information can be found here.

Car tyres a ‘stealthy source‘ of ocean pollution

Car tyres a stealthy source of ocean pollution

“Tyres sit uniquely at the intersection of air quality and microplastics.” That’s the opinion of Emissions Analytics, which is seeking to raise awareness of the impact vehicles tyres are having on our oceans.

Think of plastic waste and most people will picture bottles, packaging, bags – maybe even tea bags and clothes. But tyres are a major source of microplastics found in our oceans, and the problem is only going to get worse.

Emissions Analytics names three emerging threats: budget tyres, electric vehicles and SUVs.

According to an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) study in 2017, between 15 and 31 percent of the 9.5 million tonnes of plastics released into the oceans each year could be primary microplastics.

Two-thirds of which come from the washing of synthetic textiles and the abrasion of tyres while driving.

In the same year, a study by Pieter Jan Kole at the Open University of The Netherlands put the figure at 10 percent. “Tyre wear and tear is a stealthy source of microplastics in our environment, which can only be addressed effectively if awareness increases,” was the rather stark conclusion.

‘Big chunks of plastic’

Car tyre wear

The lack of awareness stems from a general misunderstanding of the composition of a modern tyre. “Tyres are essentially yet more big chunks of plastic,” says Friends of the Earth. “When they break down they behave and persist like other plastics in the environment.”

Emissions Analytics claims that over the course of 12,500 to 31,000 miles, a typical tyre will shed 10 to 30 percent of its tread rubber into the environment. Particles will end up by the roadside or washed into drains, which in turn takes the pollution into rivers and the ocean.

Just as concerning is the fact that Friends of the Earth estimates that up to 10 percent of tyre wear is generated as airborne particles, which contribute to air quality issues and lung problems.

The IUCN report refers to data that says while there is no reliable information on the transfer of microplastics from tyres to the world’s oceans, both Norwegian and Swedish researchers have pointed out that a large fraction of particles found in the sea seem to originate from car tyres.

Tyres and our oceans: emerging threats

SUV tyre next to the water

What about the emerging threats?

Emissions Analytics points to the fact that budget tyres wear rapidly and have high emissions. It also says that the instant torque and higher kerb weights associated with electric vehicles will increase wear rates, adding to the pollution issue.

The increased weight is also a factor associated with SUVs, along with the typically larger wheel sizes adopted by such vehicles. The larger the tyres, the greater the problem.

“On this basis we think tyres are set to be scrutinised and regulated more, and perhaps also reinvented for electric cars to perform well in durability and noise. There will be opportunities and threats that arise from these changes,” says Emissions Analytics.

It is also calling for a review of the European tyre labelling, with the environmental impact added to the ratings for rolling resistance, wet grip and noise.

Tyre fitter with tyre label

Friends of the Earth wants to see a government-backed test to identify how resistant each type of tyre is to wear and tear – with clear labels for buyers. It says tyres with the highest rates of tread abrasion could be banned from sale.

Other suggestions include a tyre levy to help tackle the problem of microplastic pollution, more efficient use of roadside gully pots used to catch debris, and increased road cleaning.

The problem isn’t going to go away. As the IUCN points out, calls for a ban on microbeads in cosmetics are welcome, but this source is responsible for just two percent of primary microplastics. The impact of tyres is far, far greater.

In the UK, we generate up to 19,000 tonnes of microplastics tyre pollution, which finds its way into our waterways, rivers and seas every year. Something to think about next time you’re changing a worn tyre.

Motorists want tougher penalties for idling drivers

Tougher fines for idling drivers

There are calls for drivers who leave their engines running when parked to be fined.

Seventy-two percent of the drivers questioned in a new survey want local councils to tackle the problem, while 44 percent believe officials should have the power to issue fines if they refuse.

Under section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988(4), a driver can be fined £20 for a stationary idling offence, but few councils enforce this.

In June, the government announced a public consultation on proposals to impose tougher penalties on idling drivers.

Then transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are determined to crack down on drivers who pollute our communities by leaving their engines running, particularly outside school gates where our children are breathing in this toxic air.

“Putting a stop to idling is an easy way to drive down dangerously high levels of pollution, reducing its impact on the environment and our health.”

Cost ahead of the environment

Traffic in Bristol

Around a quarter of the drivers surveyed by the RAC believe motorists should be told to switch off WITHOUT issuing a fine, whereas two percent think offenders should be fined without any warning.

It would appear that drivers are becoming more sensitive to the issue of vehicle emissions and the impact on air quality in our towns and cities. Indeed, more than half of the drivers surveyed said they are more concerned than they were three years ago.

However, when asked WHY they would not leave their engines idling when parked, a financial benefit was put ahead of the environment. Thirty-seven percent said they switch off to save a little on fuel, while 35 percent said they do it to improve air quality.

Just under a third claim it never occurs to them to turn off.

Like the carrier bag charge

delays and congestion up in 2018

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “It is clear from our research that the vast majority of drivers are far more aware of the impact of vehicle emissions than they were three years ago.

“They are conscious of pollution from parked vehicles running their engines needlessly to the point they want to see local councils taking some form of action against those who do this. At the very least they would like a council official to speak to those who do it and ask them to switch off.

“Councils already have the powers to deal with this problem, but few are currently doing so. Many of the drivers we questioned would like to see some firm action taken against offenders. This is no doubt needed to bring about a change in behaviour.

“You could liken the current situation with engine idling to that of taking your own carrier bags to the supermarket: everyone knew it was the right thing to do, but few of us did it until a compulsory charge was introduced. While the law is already in place for idling, enforcement is limited, if not non-existent.

“The presence of enforcement officers and ‘no engine idling’ signs, complete with penalties, must be the next step in making our urban environments better for everyone who lives, drives and works in them.”

Ban cars near schools, says Public Health England

 

School sign

Public Health England is calling for a ban on cars near schools to fight air pollution and keep children safe.

Between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year can be attributed to long term emissions exposure, according to Public Health England (PHE), and during the school drop-off, our kids are on the front line.

“Now is our opportunity to create a clean air generation of children, by implementing interventions in a coordinated way,” said Professor Paul Cosford, director of health and protection and medical director at PHE.

“By making new developments clean by design we can create a better environment for everyone, especially our children.”

For a kick-off, the Professor is saying that “we should stop idling outside when children are walking to school.”

What can be done?

In an evidence review published on March 11, PHE suggested a number of interventions for local authorities to take. These include continued promotion of low-emission vehicle uptake, with an increase in targets for electric car charging points and boosting investment in clean public transport while encouraging cycling and walking to improve health.

Also suggested was something of an urban redesign for the UK’s cities, to get pedestrians away from the most polluting roads. A further advancement of low-emission zone implementation with an emphasis on highly populated areas was also a focus.

JATO CO2 emissions

Cosford continues: “We recommend that at a local level, any new policy or programme of work which affects air pollution should aim to deliver an overall benefit to the public’s health.

“So transport and urban planners will need to work together, with others involved in air pollution to ensure that new initiatives have a positive impact.

“Decision makers should carefully design policies, to make sure that the poorest in society are protected against the financial implications of new schemes.”

Dirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Dirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Dirty diesels: most polluting cars revealedDiesel emissions testing carried out by Which? has revealed the worst diesel cars for air pollution. The figures highlight a huge variation across the industry, with the worst offenders emitting up to nine times the level of dangerous pollutants permitted in official tests. Read on to discover more about the dirtiest diesels and how Which? conducted the tests.

There are emission laws in place to limit the amount of NOx produced by cars, but Which? has uncovered huge differences in the amount of NOx emissions produced by diesel cars from different brands. Crucially, Which? uses real-world tests, replicating the way drivers really drive their cars.

Which? has provided the averages for diesel cars tested between 2012 and 2016, with the results based on data for Euro 5 compliant cars, rather than the stricter Euro 6 emission limit. The results are presented in reverse order, with Euro 6 information included where applicable.

21. Mitsubishi: 0.31 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

The Euro 5 diesel limit is 0.18g/km of NOx, which means even the cleanest car on the list fails to meet the target. The Which? data is more accurate as the tests use more realistic cycles, including motorway testing, where the car is accelerated to and then sustains motorway speeds.

20. SEAT: 0.32 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Of the figures, Richard Headland, Which? magazine editor, said: “While our tests show that some car manufacturers are making progress on reducing the amount of toxic emissions from their models, many have a long way to go in cleaning up their act.”

SEAT, Euro 6: 0.11 NOx g/km.

19. Audi: 0.33 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Headland continued: “We hope that the improved official tests brought in later this year will more clearly name and shame those manufacturers that are failing to meet their obligation to lower emissions.”

Audi, Euro 6: 0.15 NOx g/km.

18. Skoda: 0.33 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

The improvements mentioned by Richard Headland refer to the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which replaces the much-criticised New European Drive Cycle (NEDC). In a nutshell, WLTP will introduce stricter controls and cycles to reflect normal driving behaviour.

Skoda, Euro 6: 0.14 NOx g/km.

17. Volkswagen: 0.34 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the NOx figures for SEAT, Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen are within 0.2g/km of each other. As Which? points out, the Euro 5 diesel cars tested are part of the ongoing VW emissions investigation, so a question mark remains over the results.

Volkswagen, Euro 6: 0.11 NOx g/km.

16. Volvo: 0.40 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Which? says it recorded a (comparatively) low NOx average across the seven Euro 5 Volvos it tested, but the four Euro 6 Volvo cars actually emit more NOx than the Euro 5 vehicles.

Volvo, Euro 6: 0.43 NOx g/km.

15. Toyota 0.40 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Toyota performed well, with the Euro 6 figure even lower at 0.13g/km. However, this is still higher than the 0.08g/km European limit for Euro 6 vehicles.

Toyota, Euro 6: 0.13 NOx g/km.

14. BMW: 0.41 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Which? is quick to praise BMW and MINI, saying that the 33 cars tested produced some of the lowest NOx averages for diesel cars. While MINI doesn’t feature in the Euro 5 results, it did produce the best result for Euro 6 compliant cars. A figure of 0.08g/km means it just meets the European target.

BMW, Euro 6: 0.14 NOx g/km.

13. Honda: 0.45 NOx g/mDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

To produce the figures, Which? analysed 278 diesel cars from leading manufacturers between 2012 and 2016. Five Honda vehicles were tested, producing a result of 0.45 NOx g/km.

12. Vauxhall: 0.46 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Other brands for which only Euro 6 compliant cars are tested include Dacia (0.59g/km), DS Automobiles (0.26g/km), Mazda (0.21g/km) and Jaguar (0.18g/km). Meanwhile, in the Euro 5 table, Vauxhall achieves a figure of 0.46g/km.

Vauxhall, Euro 6: 0.25 NOx g/km.

 

11. Fiat 0.48 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Meanwhile, four Fiats were tested, with a result of 0.48 NOx g/km.

10. Mercedes-Benz: 0.48 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

A total of 17 Mercedes-Benz cars were tested (7 Euro 5 and 17 Euro 6), with a Euro 5 result of 0.48g/km.

Mercedes-Benz, Euro 6: 0.15 NOx g/km.

9. Peugeot: 0.52 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Peugeot finishes 9th in the Euro 5 table, making it the best performing French brand on the list. Its Euro 6 performance is one of the best recorded by Which?.

Peugeot, Euro 6: 0.11 NOx g/km.

8. Kia: 0.53 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Kia finishes eighth, with a NOx figure of 0.53g/km.

Kia, Euro 6: 0.29 NOx g/km.

7. Citroen: 0.56 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Slightly behind Kia we find Citroen, with a NOx figure of 0.56g/km.

Citroen, Euro 6: NOx 0.16g/km.

6. Ford: 0.58 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

There’s not a huge amount of difference between Ford’s Euro 5 and Euro 6 figure, with the more lax Euro 5 test revealing an output of 0.58g/km.

Ford, Euro 6: 0.49 NOx g/km.

5. Hyundai: 0.60 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

Hyundai is committed to delivering 14 or more new environmentally-focused models by 2020, which should go some way to improving this top five finish.

Hyundai, Euro 6: 0.40 NOx g/km.

4. Renault: 0.73 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

NOx emissions from the 16 Renault diesel cars tested are seven times higher than the Euro 6 MINIs tested. In response, Renault said: “Since mid-2015, Groupe Renault has committed to improve the performance of its anti-pollution systems. The vehicles tested by Which? would not have benefitted from this improvement plan”.

Renault, Euro 6: 0.72 NOx g/km.

3. Land Rover: 0.78 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

In third place is Land Rover, which was one of six manufacturers for which the consumer group only has average figures for Euro 5 compliant cars.

2. Nissan: 0.81 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

In response to the results, Nissan said: “We are committed to upholding the law and meeting regulations in every market where we operate. Specifically in Europe, all our vehicles sold in Europe meet the Euro 5/6 emission standards. This report, which looks at the variation between lab and ‘real world’ conditions, shows significant variances for most brands tested”.

1. Jeep: 1.74 NOx g/kmDirty diesels: most polluting cars revealed

That leaves Jeep to secure the unwanted position at the top of the dirty diesels tree. Jeep failed to provide a response to the research.

Tesla biohazard bubble

Tesla’s bioweapon promises to heal the world

Tesla biohazard bubble

“We then closed the falcon doors and activated Bioweapon Defence Mode.” No, not an extract from a new Star Wars movie, but a statement from a press release focused on air pollution. OK, Tesla, you’ve got our attention. What’s the big deal?

The American electric car giant dreams of a cleaner future, which is why it has developed a new High-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filtration system, inspired by the air filtration systems you’ll find in hospitals, clean rooms and the space industry.

In short: Tesla’s HEPA is capable of stripping the outside air of pollen, bacteria and pollution before they enter the cabin, then scrubbing the air inside to eliminate any trace of these particles. Tesla claims the system is “hundreds of times” more efficient than the filters you’ll find in more everyday vehicles.

Wannabe superheroes: your new wheels are ready

In Tesla’s mind, the cabin of a Model S or Model X will be amongst the cleanest places on Earth, maintaining the best possible cabin air quality “no matter what is happening in the environment around them.” Wannabe superheroes engaged in a fight against biohazard threats – your new wheels are ready.

To test the system, Tesla put its cars through a number of real-world trials, including California freeways, smelly marshes, landfills, cow pastures and major Chinese cities. The aim was to ensure the system captured particulate matter, gaseous pollutants, bacteria, viruses, pollen and mould spores.

We’re not sure if Tesla has parked a Model X inside a teenager’s bedroom, but until it has, the system has not been subjected to the most toxic environment on planet Earth.

That said, Tesla did park a Model X inside a large bubble (which sounds like a teenager’s mind), at which point it closed the falcon doors and activated the Bioweapon Defence Mode. Cutting to the chase, in less than two minutes, Tesla claims the HEPA filtration system had scrubbed the air inside the car, bringing pollution levels from extremely dangerous to undetectable levels.

The people involved in the test were even able to remove their gas masks and breathe in the previously heavily-polluted air.

Heal the world… make it a better place

To quote Tesla: “You can literally survive a military-grade bio attack by sitting in your car.”

Literally. Try doing that in a Toyota Avensis.

But far from being selfish, Tesla goes on to claim that Model X and Model S drivers will be able to vacuum clean the air outside the vehicle, improving the environment for all.

To quote Michael Jackson: “Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me, and the entire human race.”

Altogether now…

Tesla biohazard bubble

Tesla's bioweapon promises to heal the world

Tesla biohazard bubble

“We then closed the falcon doors and activated Bioweapon Defence Mode.” No, not an extract from a new Star Wars movie, but a statement from a press release focused on air pollution. OK, Tesla, you’ve got our attention. What’s the big deal?

The American electric car giant dreams of a cleaner future, which is why it has developed a new High-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filtration system, inspired by the air filtration systems you’ll find in hospitals, clean rooms and the space industry.

In short: Tesla’s HEPA is capable of stripping the outside air of pollen, bacteria and pollution before they enter the cabin, then scrubbing the air inside to eliminate any trace of these particles. Tesla claims the system is “hundreds of times” more efficient than the filters you’ll find in more everyday vehicles.

Wannabe superheroes: your new wheels are ready

In Tesla’s mind, the cabin of a Model S or Model X will be amongst the cleanest places on Earth, maintaining the best possible cabin air quality “no matter what is happening in the environment around them.” Wannabe superheroes engaged in a fight against biohazard threats – your new wheels are ready.

To test the system, Tesla put its cars through a number of real-world trials, including California freeways, smelly marshes, landfills, cow pastures and major Chinese cities. The aim was to ensure the system captured particulate matter, gaseous pollutants, bacteria, viruses, pollen and mould spores.

We’re not sure if Tesla has parked a Model X inside a teenager’s bedroom, but until it has, the system has not been subjected to the most toxic environment on planet Earth.

That said, Tesla did park a Model X inside a large bubble (which sounds like a teenager’s mind), at which point it closed the falcon doors and activated the Bioweapon Defence Mode. Cutting to the chase, in less than two minutes, Tesla claims the HEPA filtration system had scrubbed the air inside the car, bringing pollution levels from extremely dangerous to undetectable levels.

The people involved in the test were even able to remove their gas masks and breathe in the previously heavily-polluted air.

Heal the world… make it a better place

To quote Tesla: “You can literally survive a military-grade bio attack by sitting in your car.”

Literally. Try doing that in a Toyota Avensis.

But far from being selfish, Tesla goes on to claim that Model X and Model S drivers will be able to vacuum clean the air outside the vehicle, improving the environment for all.

To quote Michael Jackson: “Heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me, and the entire human race.”

Altogether now…

Exhaust-pipe

London 2016 air pollution limit exceeded in just 8 days

Exhaust-pipe

London has breached its air pollution limits for the entire year in just eight days, that’s according to figures released by the London Air Quality Network.

European Union air-quality rules stipulate that levels of hourly nitrogen dioxide (NO2) are not to exceed the maximum limit for more than 18 hours per year, with World Health Organisation guidelines saying that no humans should be exposed to NO2 over 200 micrograms per cubic metre, measured over one hour.

All of which means Putney High Street was the first monitor in London to report a beach, recording its 19th hour of exceeding the limit during last Friday’s morning rush hour. Meanwhile, the Knightsbridge monitor had reported 17.

Simon Birkett, founder and director of campaign group Clean Air in London, said: “It is breathtaking that toxic air pollution has breached the legal limit for a whole calendar year within a few days.

“Worse, several air pollution monitors have been vying for the dubious honour of recording the first officially monitored breach of the nitrogen dioxide legal limit in the world in 2016. Oxford Street would have been first again if it hadn’t been ‘offline’ since last Sunday afternoon – possibly due to vandalism of the scientific equipment.”

In 2015, Oxford Street was the first street to report a breach of the objectives for levels of nitrogen oxide – in just two days.

[bctt tweet=”Put simply, diesel exhaust is the biggest public health catastrophe since the Black Death.”]

Simon Birkett went on to say: “This shocking start to the 60th anniversary year of the world’s first Clean Air Act in 1956 illustrates the scale of Boris Johnson’s failure to reduce diesel fumes.

“Put simply, diesel exhaust is the biggest public health catastrophe since the Black Death.”

Putney resident, Judith Howell, told PutneySW15: “I’m mildly asthmatic and at present the combination of cold, little air movement and pollution is awful.”

Sarah Williams, Living Streets London campaigns manager, said: “Our air pollution levels are dangerous and cannot be allowed to continue like this. The majority of main roads in the city regularly breach the values for nitrogen dioxide.

“By 2031 it’s estimated that an extra 1.5 million people will be living in the capital and if we don’t make changes, the situation will only get worse.”

Delhi to launch odd-even scheme to cut polution

 

Exhaust

Residents of Delhi are gearing up for drastic measures aimed at cleaning up the world’s most polluted city. For a two-week period starting January 1, those driving cars with license plates ending with an even number will only be allowed to drive on even-numbered dates.

Similarly, those who own cars with license plates ending with an odd number will only be allowed on the roads on odd-numbered dates. It’s one part of a series of initiatives which the state government hopes will clean up its act. It follows a court order focused on tackling pollution levels which are 10 times the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) safe limits.

The restrictions will be in place from 8am to 8pm everyday except Sunday, which should see a dramatic fall in the 8.5 million vehicles that use Delhi’s congested and smog-filled roads. According to a survey conducted by WHO, Delhi is the most polluted of 1,600 cities around the world, ‘beating’ the likes of Beijing and Shanghai.

[bctt tweet=”Delhi is the most polluted of 1,600 cities around the world, ‘beating’ the likes of Beijing and Shanghai.”]

It’s a growing problem across India, with research carried out by the Central Pollution Control Board revealing that 15 out of 17 cities monitored failed to meet the ambient air quality standard.

Speaking about the survey, Greenpeace India campaigner, Sunil Dahiya, told The Times of India: “As the political capital – and indeed, the most polluted of all cities – the bad air in Delhi gets the most attention. But, scratch below the murky surface, and you will find concentrations of PM2.5 (particulate matter) in several other cities that would justify the triggering of a ‘red alert’ like Beijing does.”

Beijing uses a four-level alarm system that imposes restrictions depending on how poor the air quality is. These can range from restricting the use of vehicles to reducing the emissions from factories and power stations.

For its part, Delhi is rolling out a series of similar initiatives, in addition to the odd-even driving scheme. These include forcing all taxi operators to convert to natural gas by March 31, a temporary ban on the registration of SUVs, minivans and large diesel-powered cars, the closure of some coal-fired power stations and even the vacuuming of roads.

Delhi pollution

Anyone caught disobeying the odd-even rules face a fine of 2,000 rupee – approximately £20 – leading opponents of the scheme to claim Delhi will see a rise in the number of fake license plates, as drivers attempt to flout the law. In India it is called ‘jugaad’, a word that is used to describe an innovative fix or bending of the rules.

Delhi’s transport minister, Gopal Rai, said: “The biggest challenge is to make people realise that this fight against pollution is for them, for their health, for their own good.

“They will only be cheating themselves with jugaad. There is no magic button that will make the pollution disappear. We must act now.”

[bctt tweet=”There is no magic button that will make the pollution disappear. We must act now.”]

But some residents will not have to worry about the restrictions, with the state government outlining a number of exemptions. These include women travelling alone or with a child under the age of 12. Drivers with disabilities are also exempt, as are riders of two-wheeled vehicles. Drivers who own electric vehicles, hybrids or cars and vans converted to run on natural gas are also free to continue driving as normal.

School classes have been cancelled for the two-week trial period, with the government commandeering the school buses for use as commuter transport. Once the trial period is over, the Delhi government will evaluate the findings and decide whether or not to continue with the odd-even scheme.

Image © Onewhohelps at English Wikinews