An Evaluation of the Environmental and Health Effects of Vehicle Exhaust Catalysts in the UK


Hutchinson, EJ; Pearson, PJ; (2004) An Evaluation of the Environmental and Health Effects of Vehicle Exhaust Catalysts in the UK. Environmental health perspectives, 112 (2). pp. 132-41. ISSN 0091-6765 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.6349

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Abstract

Since 1993, all new gasoline-engine automobiles in the United Kingdom have been supplied with three-way vehicle exhaust catalytic converters (VECs) containing platinum, palladium, and rhodium, to comply with European Commission Stage I limits on emissions of regulated pollutants: carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and oxides of nitrogen. We conducted a physical and economic evaluation of the environmental and health benefits from a reduction in emissions through this mandated environmental technology against the costs, with reference to urban areas in Great Britain. We made both an ex post assessment--based on available data to 1998--and an ex ante assessment--projected to 2005, the year when full penetration of VECs into the fleet is expected. Substantial health benefits in excess of the costs of VECs were indicated: By 1998 the estimated net societal health benefits were approximately 500 million British pounds, and by 2005 they were estimated to rise to as much as 2 billion British pounds. We also found through environmental surveys that although lead in road dust has fallen by 50% in urban areas, platinum accumulations near roads have risen significantly, up to 90-fold higher than natural background levels. This rapid accumulation of platinum suggests further monitoring is warranted, although as yet there is no evidence of adverse health effects.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
PubMed ID: 14754566
Web of Science ID: 189149800027
URI: http://researchonline.lshtm.ac.uk/id/eprint/15014

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