Prague looks to limit car pollution

A survey shows less than 10 percent of cars cause 60 percent of pollution

About 9 percent of vehicles in Prague with the highest emissions produce 60 percent of the air pollution particles, according to results of a Czech Technical University (ČVUT) study.

The study confirmed that the most important source of air pollution in Prague is road transport and associated emissions from fuel combustion. Most problematic are the ultra-fine particles from diesel-powered vehicles that contain cancer-causing substances.

The most polluting vehicles were found to lack particle filters or have inoperative filters. Drivers with engine trouble often bypass the filter rather than fix the main problem with the engine

City Hall wants to focus on the most damaging vehicles, instead of following Berlin's example of implementing a ban on the entry of vehicles without a rigorous emission certificate.

“We need to pay special attention to the technical condition of vehicles. It is necessary to put an end to vehicles with excessive emissions operating with impunity, In order to prevent [filter] removal … it will be necessary to focus road inspections on vehicle's technical condition and on emission parameters,” Prague Jana Plamínková (STAN), city councilor for the environment, said on the City Hall website.

“Only by more frequent and consistent checks on the state of the vehicles can the emissions from problematic vehicles on the roads be significantly reduced, thus contributing to the improvement of the pollution situation in cities with higher traffic density,” she added.

“We will look for ways to legally and vigorously get these cars out of operation and get drivers to keep their cars in good condition,” she added.

While the study was conducted, offending vehicles were also stopped by the police and sent for an official inspection. Cars cannot operate legally without a valid inspection sticker.

The problem of particles is not limited to new cars with a faulty particulate filter. Older cars without a filter are another large source of pollution. Vehicles, unlike stationary sources such as fireplaces and boilers, emit exhaust gases directly in the middle of streets in the immediate vicinity of people. Daily exposure to high-risk substances is very negative for the health of large groups of people.

The Central Automobile Club (ÚAMK) welcomed efforts to reduce pollution that fell short of a total ban on certain types of vehicles. “We are glad numbers that show five to 10 percent [of drivers] are the culprits. Now we are going to look for a solution to limiting pollution instead of a total ban,” ÚAMK spokesman Igor Sirota said, according to daily Pražský deník.

Municipal Police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulová told Pražský deník that the police were willing to help in the issue, but it depends on legislation and also on technical issues. 

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