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German government calls for particulate traps on diesel cars

7 August 1999

Jürgen Trittin, German environment minister (Bundesumweltministerium), and Prof. Dr. Andreas Troge, the president of the Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt), said that diesel particulate filters or equivalent technologies should be introduced not only for heavy-duty diesel engines, but also for diesel fueled cars and light-duty vehicles.

This statement followed a study, sponsored by the Bundesumweltministerium and the Umweltbundesamt and conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Toxicology and Aerosol Research in Hannover, which compared the relative risk of cancer caused by gasoline and diesel emissions. The study concluded that the reduction of diesel particulate emissions, as provided by particulate traps, can lower the risk of cancer associated with diesel emissions by more than 90%. According to the study, the risk of cancer from filter-equipped diesel engines is equivalent to the risk of cancer from gasoline fueled engines.

Under the Euro IV (year 2005) emission standard for trucks and buses, heavy-duty diesel engines will most likely require particulate traps to meet the particulate matter standard. Jürgen Trittin said that, in the interest of the protection of the human health, similar tough standards forcing the use of particulate filters should be introduced for light duty vehicles. He also called on equipment manufacturers to increase research and development efforts in the area of emission control technologies.

Emission standards for new engines and vehicles in Europe are adopted by the European Parliament and have to be observed by all Member States. The Member States can introduce their own regulations to control emissions from existing vehicles, such as retrofit programs for diesel vehicles in environmentally sensitive areas.

UBA press release (in German)
Background paper (in German)