Few vehicles are responsible for a lot of air pollution

NEMO will develop a technology that can identify the most polluting vehicles in the traffic flow. But how can we be sure, that targeting these vehicles will have the positive effect on air quality we expect it to?

Studies show that a small share of the vehicles in urban spaces, the so-called High Emitters, is responsible for a large share of the total air pollution from traffic. For example, just 4% of the vehicle fleet emits 41% of the total particulate matter pollution from traffic. Excluding the few High Emitters from dense urban areas has the potential of improving air quality significantly for the benefit of citizens.

Opus RSE and CIEMAT carried out studies in Madrid using remote sensing technology to identify high emitters. The study showed that a quite a small share of vehicles, vehicles categorized as High Emitters is responsible for a large share of air pollution caused by traffic.

A vehicle was categorized as a high emitter if it was among the top 2% most polluting vehicles at least once and among the top 20% most polluting vehicles at least twice. Emissions from vehicles can vary and applying a set of different criteria to categorize High Emitters ensures that vehicles are not falsely identified as a high emitter based on a singular event of high emissions from a vehicle that normally performs well. Using this method, just 3,7-5,3% of the vehicles were identified as High Emitters, depending on the pollutant. These vehicles were found to be responsible for 17,8-41,0% of the total pollution from traffic. 

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