Haze24HAZE set to last till November as El Niño stretches dry spell The haze, a result of forest fires in parts of Indonesia, is set to remain until November, due in part to the dry spell caused by the El Nino effect said to be among the strongest since records were kept in 1950.

4096Wide range of cars emit more pollution in realistic driving tests, data shows Diesel cars made by Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat and Volvo among others emitted far more NOx in more rigorous tests, research shows

4170656240Nine out of 10 diesel cars exceed EU pollution limits, study finds Nine out of 10 new diesel cars break new EU pollution limits when tested on roads rather than test tracks, according to a new report.

4251Nearly 9500 people die each year in London because of air pollution Nearly 9,500 people die early each year in London due to long-term exposure to air pollution, more than twice as many as previously thought, according to new research.

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Community groups record ‘illegal levels of air pollution’ in London 

Community groups recording air pollution in London found eight out of nine areas surveyed breached EU limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air.

The University College London (UCL) project found the highest level of NO2 in the areas was in Marylebone in central London.

Diesel vehicles are a key source of NO2, which is linked to a range of respiratory illnesses.

London’s deputy mayor for environment and energy said NO2 was a “problem”.

The results are part of the social enterprise Mapping for Change‘s Air Quality Monitoring project.

Community groups were given kits to measure the amount of NO2 in July in areas including Marylebone, Soho, Walthamstow, Brentford, Haringey and Ham.

The highest reading was on Marylebone Road, in central London, measuring 145 micrograms of NO2 per cubic meter air (µg/m3), which is nearly four times the EU legal limit of 40µg/m3.

This was followed by Shaftesbury Avenue, in Soho, at 119µg/m3.

Tests in suburban areas like Walthamstow and Brentford also showed nearly double the EU limit.

Louise Francis, from UCL and co-founder of Mapping for Change, said the results were a snapshot of the level of pollution in the capital but the actual levels of NO2 could be higher as holiday levels were often lower than other times of the year.

She said that the public could make changes to reduce their intake of NO2 by walking down side roads instead of major routes.

Matthew Pencharz, deputy mayor for environment and energy, said: “NO2 remains a problem. We have now seen a 12% reduction in measured NO2 across London showing we are making real progress.”

He added that the introduction of taxi age limits and cleaner buses had also improved air quality, as would the introduction in 2020 of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which will only allow zero and low-emission vehicles in central London.

Public Health England suggests about 3,000 people each year are estimated to die from polluted air in the capital, making it London’s second highest cause of death after smoking.

Source: Community groups record ‘illegal levels of air pollution’ in London – BBC News

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Asian haze set to become worst on record

Malaysia has ordered all schools to close for two days as choking haze blanketing a large swathe of south-east Asia is on track to become the worst on record.

The fog-like grey smoke caused by slash and burn techniques used to clear Indonesian forests has for weeks caused health problems, flight delays and school closures in Singapore and parts of Indonesia and Malaysia.

Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering acute respiratory infections as the region has struggled to find an effective response to the problem.

Malaysia’s deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi took a swipe at Indonesia as his country cancelled sporting events including a marathon for 30,000 runners and local soccer matches.

“We hope Indonesia’s commitment is not only on paper or mere statements pleasant to ears, but through implementation which could end all haze problems,” he said.

Singapore last weekend was forced to cancel a final of swimming’s World Cup.

The haze has even reached the Philippines island of Cebu which has suffered a week of polluted skies.

Malaysia’s education minister Mahdzir Khalid ordered his country’s schools to close for two days on Sunday, saying the haze is beyond Malaysia’s control.

“This issue has to be addressed wisely and quickly as it can do harm to our children,” he said. “We cannot compromise with anything that may bring harm to children in our schools.”

In Kuala Lumpur, pollutant monitoring stations registered “very unhealthy” or close to “hazardous” levels.

High levels were recorded across peninsular Malaysia and Borneo.

Similar crises have gripped the region each dry season for decades as palm oil plantation owners have set fires to clear forests to meet rising global demand for the oil used for cooking and in household products.

But scientists predict the current outbreak is on track to surpass 1997 levels when pollution soared to record highs in an environmental disaster that cost an estimated US$9 billion ($12.7 billion).

“If the forecasts for a longer dry season hold, this suggests 2015 will rank among the most severe events on record,” said Robert Field, a Columbia University Scientist based at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The fires have raged despite Indonesia deploying more than 20,000 troops, police and other personnel to fight them through water bombing and chemically-induced rainfall.

Under criticism from its neighbours, Indonesia has investigated more than 200 companies and ordered four to suspend operations for allegedly causing fires on Sumatra and Kalimantan islands.

But weak enforcement in Indonesia is exacerbated by a lack of transparency about land ownership, making it harder to pinpoint and punish perpetrators, experts say.

Indonesia is the fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, mainly from deforestation.

The NASA-linked Global Fire Emissions Database has estimated this year’s fires have released around 600 million tonnes of greenhouse gases.

In the Indonesian province of Riau alone officials say 44,000 people have suffered acute respiratory infections.

Source: Asian haze set to become worst on record

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Air quality index in Shah Alam breaches 300, airports closed 

The smoke has deteriorated further this morning with the capital city of Selangor hitting the hazardous level in the air pollutant index (API) reading, while two airports in the country remain closed.

At 9am today, the Department of Environment said API in Shah Alam recorded 308, breaching the 301 hazardous API.

Five other areas in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur continued its “very unhealthy” air condition with Batu Muda in Kuala Lumpur at 271, Petaling Jaya (256), Banting (249), Port Klang (243) and Putrajaya (235).API readings of between 0 and 50 indicate good air quality; 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy and over 301 hazardous.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Airports Berhad (MAB) said operations at the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport reopened at 9.15am this morning, after it was declared closed earlier when visibility was reduced to 350m at 6.35am.

However, two other airports, Sultan Abdul Halim Airport in Alor Setar and Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in Ipoh, remain closed until further notice, MAB said in a series of tweets.

The visibility for both airports was 500m as of 7.20am and 7.30am this morning respectively.

Operations at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and budget airport KLIA2 in Sepang continue as normal.

The worsening situation also forced the Standard Chartered Kuala Lumpur Marathon to be cancelled today.

This marks the second time the race was affected by air pollution. In 2013, the event was postponed from June to October. – October 4, 2015.

Source: Air quality index in Shah Alam breaches 300, airports closed – The Malaysian Insider

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Paris’s first attempt at car-free day brings big drop in air and noise pollution 

Vehicle ban, applied to just 30% of French capital, showed encouraging results – but new report says nation has far to go

Paris’s “day without cars” last week led to such a dramatic drop in both air and noise pollution that the mayor’s office is now planning more vehicle-free days in the French capital.

Airparif, which measures city pollution levels, said levels of nitrogen dioxide dropped by up to 40% in parts of the city on Sunday 27 September.

There was almost one-third less nitrogen dioxide pollution on the busy Champs Elyées than on a similar Sunday.

Along the Seine in the city centre, levels were down by about 40%. At the busy Place de l’Opera, levels were 20% lower.

Bruitparif, which measures noise, said sound levels dropped by half in the city centre.

Officials and environmentalists hailed the event as a success despite disappointment that police had refused to allow the ban to cover the whole city. The official intervention meant only 30% of Paris was off limits to vehicles.

City mayor Anne Hidalgo, who has made reducing Paris’s worryingly high pollution levels a top priority, said she hoped to introduce a regular citywide vehicle ban.

“We might envisage days without cars more often … perhaps even once a month,” she wrote on Twitter.

In March, a spike in air contaminants briefly turned Paris into the world’s most polluted city. The noxious smog was so dense it almost obscured the French capital’s totemic landmark, the Eiffel Tower.

In a few weeks, world leaders will fly to Paris for what has been billed as the world’s biggest ever climate change conference.

COP21 will seek an international agreement on dramatic measures to keep global warming below 2C.

In his speech to the United Nations last week, French president François Hollande said it was the “last chance” for climate change and said the international community had an “obligation to succeed”.

French environment minister Ségolène Royal said France has a “particular responsibility to be exemplary to encourage other countries for climate regulations”.

Unfortunately, in terms of pollution, Paris is far from exemplary.

At Quai des Celestins, near Place de la Bastille, on a Friday morning, the traffic speeding along the riverside highway flanking the muggy grey Seine is relentless. A tag-covered white van belches black, noxious smoke. A cyclist following the van puts her hand over her mouth.

In the last two weeks the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) here have peaked at “very high”, according to Airparif. In the last year, the level of NO2 on the quai has regularly topped 100µg/m3 with an average of 66µg/m3 over the year – well above the EU limit of 40µg/m3.

Across town at the Place de l’Opera, the traffic is equally intense, and the figures equally worrying. Here the annual average NO2 level is 95. On the péripherique, the ring road around the city, it has reached 150.

Airparif, an independent monitoring organisation, reports that Quai des Celestins broke the European hourly limit 11 times in 2014. Place de l’Opera broke the limit 17 times, and parts of the péripherique did so 67 times.

The widely published picture of the Eiffel Tower shrouded in smoke this spring symbolised the French capital’s battle with pollution, a battle that has pitted the city authorities against the government – both Socialist and both supposed to be singing from the same songsheet, but frequently at odds over how to solve the problem.

When the scandal broke over Volkswagen’s manipulation of emissions data for diesel vehicles, the French claimed this was typical “German economic arrogance”. Amid the bout of schadenfreude, no one mentioned that France has been flouting EU air quality targets since 2005.

In its report for 2014, Airparif wrote: “Despite meteorological conditions favourable to the quality of air in 2014, 2.3 million French people are still exposed to levels of pollution that do not respect the rules, particularly in the case of (lead) particles and nitrogen dioxide. Those living in the Paris region and near major roads are the most affected.”

Airparif said pollutions levels were up to double those allowed by the regulations. Five pollutants posed problems in the capital: benzene, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and the fine particles PM10 and PM2.5.

A report by the French Sénat, the upper house of parliament, found that air pollution costs France €101.3bn (£75bn) a year in negative health, economic and financial consequences.

It said illnesses created or worsened by pollution included Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, respiratory disease and some cancers. Polluted air is also linked to foetal development problems, the report said.

Jean-Francois Husson, head of the Sénat committee, said: ”There’s lots of work to do … Europe and states have to act.”

The report – entitled Air Pollution: the Cost of Inaction – estimated that pollution caused up to 45,000 premature deaths in France a year, from asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks, lung cancer and strokes.

The Sénat criticised successive governments for a “failure to mobilise” to clean up the city’s air.

Hidalgo has made doing so a priority. City hall launched an ambitious “anti-pollution plan” at the beginning of this year, which included an eventual prohibition of older diesel vehicles, multi-million euro improvements to public transport and pedestrian area projects – including banning all vehicles from the right bank of the Seine from Bastille to the Eiffel Tower.

However, when pollution spiked in March this year, Hidalgo’s traffic calming measures – including alternate day access to the city for cars – were overruled by Royal at the ministry, leading to a furious public spat between the two women.

Christophe Najdovski, deputy mayor in charge of transport, said Paris was lagging behind on tackling pollution. He said centralised state interference in the city authorities’ attempts to combat pollution were “an obstacle to modernisation”.

“We’re behind on this and we cannot afford to be,” Najdovski said.

“We have to change people’s attitudes and behaviour. The fact is you don’t need a car to get around in Paris and there is no reason to use one most of the time. You can take public transport, bicycles and even walk.”

He said young people were slowly changing attitudes. “The young have a different relationship with cars. They are much less likely to buy a car and more interested in car-sharing and similar schemes.”

Najdovski, a member of the Europe Ecology-Green (EELV) party, admitted he was disappointed that only one third of Paris was handed over to pedestrians and cyclists on 27 September.

However, he said the event was symbolic and aimed to demonstrate that it was possible for people to “move about the city differently”.

Najdovski added: “My dream Paris would be a city without cars. It may be idealistic, but we have to start somewhere. And this is the road we have to go down if we want to have a city we can live in.”

Source: Paris’s first attempt at car-free day brings big drop in air and noise pollution | World news | The Guardian

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Wide range of cars emit more pollution in realistic driving tests, data shows 

Diesel cars made by Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat and Volvo among others emitted far more NOx in more rigorous tests, research shows

New diesel cars from Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and other manufacturers have been found to emit substantially higher levels of pollution when tested in more realistic driving conditions, according to new data seen by the Guardian.

Research compiled by Adac, Europe’s largest motoring organisation, shows that some of the diesel cars it examined released over 10 times more NOx than revealed by existing EU tests, using an alternative standard due to be introduced later this decade.

Adac put the diesel cars through the EU’s existing lab-based regulatory test (NEDC) and then compared the results with a second, UN-developed test (WLTC) which, while still lab-based, is longer and is believed to better represent real driving conditions. The WLTC is currently due to be introduced by the EU in 2017.

The biggest polluters according to Adac’s own data are:

  • Nissan’s X-Trail 1.6 cDi, which produced over 14 times more NOx in the WLTC test. A Nissan spokeswoman said: “We can state unequivocally that we are committed to upholding the law and meeting regulations in all markets.”
  • Renault’s Espace Energy dCi 160 emitted over 11 times more NOx in the WLTC test, with Renault’s Grand Scenic and Kadjar also among Adac’s top 10 polluters. A Renault Group spokesman said: “The group complies with all regulations and legislation for the markets in which it operates. Its vehicles are not equipped with defeat devices.”
  • Adac found Jeep’s Renegade 2.0 emitted 10 times more NOx while other cars producing at least six times more NOx included Hyundai’s i20 1.1, Fiat’s 500x 1.6 and Citroen’s DS5 Hybrid4. “Hyundai Motor abides by the testing regulations and methods of each region where it sells cars including Europe,” said a spokeswoman. Citroen, Fiat and Jeep did not respond to requests for comment.

Reinhard Kolke, head of test and technical affairs at Adac’s state-of-the-art test centre in Bavaria, told the Guardian: “If all cars complied with [the official EU NOx limit], we would have solved all the worst health effects. Every consumer has the right to expect all manufacturers to do this. But still there are these gross emitters.”

The controversy over high nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from diesel cars was sparked when Volkswagen, then its Audi and Skoda brands, were caught using software in millions of cars to cheat pollution tests. There is no suggestion of cheating in Adac’s analysis, but only a quarter of the 79 different cars ADAC tested using the WLTC standard matched their official performance on the existing EU test.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 08.01.37 Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 08.02.00 Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 08.02.14Peter Mock, one of the team at the International Council on Clean Transportationwho exposed the VW diesel scandal, said the Adac test centre was “absolutely trustworthy”.

But Mock said the high profile now being given to the issue of misleading emissions data left him with mixed feelings. “I feel happy, but I also feel sad because there was enough data and people knew for a long time. The emissions in cities have not gone down like we expected and they could have been reduced a long time ago.”

The failure of the regulatory tests is the main cause of illegal levels of NO2 in many cities, according to a recent UK government document. “It has had an absolutely enormous effect,” said Prof Alistair Lewis, an air pollution expert at the University of York. “The costs will be in thousands of deaths and billions of pounds, all passed on to the taxpayer.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 08.02.33

Emissions experts have warned for some time that there were problems with official lab-based NOx tests, meaning there was a failure to limit on-the-road emissions. “Gaming and optimising the test is ubiquitous across the industry,” said Greg Archer, an emissions expert at Transport & Environment.

A recent T&E round-up of evidence found this affected nine out of 10 new diesel cars, which were on average seven times more polluting in the real world. But the Adac data are the first detailed list of specific makes and models affected.

Adac also measured a Volvo S60 D4 producing NOx emissions over 14 times the official test level – but a Volvo spokesman said that in this instance the car was faulty. “We are investigating this incident further,” he said. “An early indication is that the emission control system was out of order.”

Kolke said Adac had not been contacted by Volvo and that the car would have needed additional equipment fitted to reduce NOx emissions to low levels. The Adac tests also measured a Volvo V60 D3 emitting three times the official test level. The Volvo spokesman said: “Every Volvo car on the market today meets the legal Euro 6 standard for NOx emissions, based on the current test.”

T&E argues that the Adac WLTC tests are minimum estimates of actual on-the-road emissions. Archer said the EU must back up the WLTC with on-the-road tests and end the practice of carmakers paying for the tests at their preferred test centres. “It is more realistic but it still isn’t entirely representative,” said Archer. “We still think there is a gap of about 25% between the WLTC test and typical average new car driving.”

One politician said that the Adac tests showed there was an urgent need for review. “The Adac tests show the diesel emissions scandal is happening right across the industry,” said Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, who is a lead negotiator in the European parliament on the EU’s new air quality law.

“We urgently need to reform. This is not just about customers being misled, it is about the thousands of premature deaths due to air pollution each year.”

PSA Peugeot Citroën said: “PSA complies with the approval procedures in effect in all countries where it operates, and that engine settings, assuming the same conditions of use, are identical whether for approval procedures or in real life.”

This article was amended on 1 October 2015 to append a comment from PSA Peugeot Citroën that was received after the article was first published, and to clarify details of the Nissan X-Trail tested, including the fact that it was built to meet the Euro 5 standard, not the current Euro 6 standard. Adac said Nissan had not taken the opportunity to respond when the X-Trail test was done in 2014, but contacted Adac on Wednesday after the Guardian story was published.

Source: Wide range of cars emit more pollution in realistic driving tests, data shows | Environment |… –

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16.7% of 16,581 vehicles’ exhaust violating air quality standards 

An inspection by the Ministry of Environment of 16, 581 vehicles’ exhaust found that 2,727 of them (16.7 percent) exceed the emission limits, Youm7 reported Thursday.

The ministry has suspended the vehicle licenses until the owners fix their cars.

The ministry also recently referred a total of 135 factories in Cairo to prosecution for violating air quality standards in a campaign that surveyed 136.

As the rice crop harvest has begun, farmers as well are under increased scrutiny as many of them tend to burn the waste of rice straw, which creates a pall of dark clouds that forms the recurring phenomenon that is known as the “Black Clouds.”

Egypt’s ministry of environment has pledged to reduce by 70 percent the “black cloud” crisis that is to blanket Egypt’s sky in two months during rice cultivation season, and reportedly raises the air pollution and causes severe respiratory diseases.

Source:   16.7% of 16,581 vehicles’ exhaust violating air quality standards | Cairo Post

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Environmental campaigners say government plans to tackle air quality “should be binned”

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have slammed Government plans to improve air quality saying pollution in Brighton and Hove is up to twice the legal limit.

Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth has said the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’s (Defra) consultation on draft plans to improve air quality is inadequate saying pollution is much worse than recorded.

The green group say figures from Brighton and Hove City Council’s Air Quality Action Plan show levels of nitrogen dioxide in the city are up to twice the legal limit.

Large parts of the city centre are within an air quality management zone with the worst areas of pollution North Street, Western Road and the Clock Tower according to the council stats.

But Defra are currently consulting on Government plans to improve air quality and said in their report levels of nitrogen dioxide in the city are below the legal limit.

They say local authority monitoring stations are not part of their national network and do not meet the same monitoring requirements – which could explain the data differences.

The Friends of the Earth group say this shows a new strategy needs to be developed adding their approach “lacks any urgency”.

Chris Todd, planning and transport campaigner for BHFOE, said: “The Supreme Court ruled this year that the Government needed to come up with a new action plan to reduce air pollution ‘as soon as possible’.”

Defra’s draft plan had already been highly criticised before the latest scandals emerged but now it is completely discredited.”Based as it is on dodgy statistics, the plan should be binned and Defra forced to come up with something that will do the job properly and quickly.”A Defra spokesman said: “Tackling air pollution is a priority for this Government and we are working with local authorities and members of the public on how to make our nation cleaner.

“Our plans are based on the best available and most reliable data in line with legal requirements and international standards.“Brighton is forecast to fall into compliance by 2020 once measures set out in the Air Quality plan, including improved traffic flows and the low emission zone for buses, have been implemented.”

Source: Environmental campaigners say government plans to tackle air quality “should be binned” (From The Argus)

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