Monday 22 April 2019

Trinity students investigating air pollution from Irish cars as Volkswagen fallout continues

Trinity College
Trinity College

Michael Cogley

Researchers from the schools of engineering and natural sciences at Trinity College Dublin are to examine the impact of air pollution from diesel vehicles in Ireland.

The research has been prompted from the recent emissions scandal involving German car manufacturer, Volkswagen.

Volkswagen was found guilty of tampering with the emission test results for some of its diesel vehicles.

With the recent influx of diesel cars in Ireland assistant professor in civil structural and environmental engineering at Trinity, Dr Aonghus McNabola, believes now is the time to assess their impact.

“With the significant rise in the share of diesel vehicles in the vehicle fleet in Ireland of late, there is a pressing need to assess the impact of this on human health. This increase is driven by a need to reduce CO2 emissions and climate change but may come at the cost for public health,” Dr McNabola said.

While the Volkswagen scandal has acted as a prompt for the research, the study is also a reaction to the rise in popularity of diesel cars in Europe.

Lower fuel prices and government tax incentives based around CO2 emissions have made them attractive for consumers.

According to the researchers in Trinity, diesel cars emit less CO2 than their petrol counterparts but produce larger amounts of pollutants such as Nox, which are damaging to human health.

The research has received €250,000 in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s STRIVE Programme to examine the impact of diesel vehicles on the exposure of Ireland’s population to particulate air pollution in Ireland.

Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at Trinity, Balz Kamber, said that Ireland will prove to be an ideal testing location.

“This project will explore novel ways of tracing the origin of particulate air pollutants, and, because Ireland’s geographic position situates us away from major neighbouring emission sources, we have an ideal testbed for such studies.”

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