posted 7 months ago

New Pollution Cameras Test Exhaust Output On Real Roads

Motor manufacturers could face tough questions if new pollution cameras prove vehicles are more damaging than stated.

London & Birmingham chosen for pollution camera trial

Trial, UK, pollution cameras are monitoring vehicle exhaust emissions so real-world efficiency could be compared with manufacturer claims. The Emission Detection and Reporting Device – a brainchild of former NASA scientist Stewart Hagar – is operating in London and Birmingham for the first tests of its type in Europe.

How pollution cameras work

Pollution cameras shoot laser beams through the vehicle's exhaust stream. Changes of light then indicate the quantity of particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen oxides (Nox) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). 

Data is compared to established pollution monitoring station readings to ensure accuracy and could – as other cameras record the vehicle's make/model via its registration plate – be compared to manufacturer figures to test the legitimacy of any brochure claims.

Pollutants have to be monitored as they have a significant impact on the environment and its inhabitants. Public Health England claimed that nitrogen dioxide is linked to lung problems, for example.

engine pollution

Scientist explains inspiration for pollution cameras

Ex-NASA scientist Stewart Hagar said: “We (NASA) were working on a active satellite system that shoots lasers down into the atmosphere to measure column abundances of CO2. I started thinking this would be great for cars”. He added: “I did some research and found out that nobody has done this before, so this is a very unique system”.

Government funds pollution camera trial

The Department for Transport contributed £149,000 to pay for the pollution camera trial. It involves scientists from the University of Birmingham, the University of Leeds and King’s College London.

congestion pollution

Transport Minister, Andrew Jones MP, explained: “This newly emerging technology is another example of British universities taking the lead in this area. We are pleased to support important work that improves our understanding of the impact that vehicle emissions have on air quality levels.”

He added: “It is early days for these cameras, but these first trials will help the development of air quality testing in the future.”

Car makers could be held to account

ClientEarth is the organisation that incorporates “activist lawyers committed to securing a healthy planet”. Representative Alan Andrews - a Lawyer and Health and Environment Clean Air Project Leader - said: “Car makers have failed to meet emissions limits that are designed to bring down pollution and protect our health.” 

He continued: “We need clean air zones across the country to get rid of the toxic air in our towns and cities. If these cameras work, they will be a useful tool in holding car makers to account on emissions standards and help ensure that those clean air zones deliver protection for human health.”