Low emission zones and filters

Low emission zones have been introduced in many cities to improve the air quality for the people that live there. Typically, the regulations are tough on diesel vehicles, as they tend to pollute more than others.

One way to follow the rules and improve air
quality in your city is to retrofit diesel machines and vehicles with diesel particulate filters, in this case called ultra low and low emission filters. But let us start from the beginning.

Example: The ultra low emission zone in London

Air quality has been a problem in large cities for years. One of these cities is London. To confront the issue, a low emission zone (LEZ) was implemented in the UK capital. It has already been in operation 7 days a week 24 hours a day for over a decade. The goal is to provide motivation to make the heavily polluting diesel vehicles cleaner.

The LEZ’s new counterpart, known as the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ), was introduced in 2019 and is also running all day, every day. Both initiatives allow vehicles that are approved by a set of guidelines to enter the zone free of charge, while non-approved vehicles are subject to fees.

Regulations for diesel vehicles are tough, as these machines produce relatively high levels of particulates. One way to turn a non-approved diesel vehicle into an approved one is retrofitting it with the appropriate ultra low emission filter.

What are low emission zones?

London is not the only city to implement low emission zones to regulate the most polluting vehicles in certain areas. These zones are becoming commonplace in many countries and are known by various names. For example environment zones, Umweltzonen, milieuzones, lavutslippssone, miljozone, miljözon, ZTL ambiente.
While some vehicles are subject to fees in London, other cities prohibit heavily polluting vehicles from entering the zone altogether.

Why are low emission zones put in place?

Low emission zones are implemented in areas where air pollution levels are dangerous to the health of humans. The aim is to improve the air quality, making the city a safer place to breathe. The human health damage from air pollution is estimated to cost the European economy between €427 and €790 billion per year.

The ones affected most by air pollution are the very young, the old and those with heart and lung diseases. Air pollution also triggers health problems like asthma attacks and increases hospital admissions and days off sick.

And the consequences can be fatal. Air pollution is responsible for 310 000 premature deaths in Europe each year. Yes, that is right. Over 300 000 deaths – yearly. That is more deaths than road accidents cause.

The European Union and the World Health Organisation have set up the EU Air Quality Standards to protect our health. However, many cities in Europe struggle to meet these standards.

Low Emission Zones are often the most effective measure that towns and cities can take to improve air pollution. Low emission zones reduce emissions of fine particulates, nitrogen dioxide and (indirectly) ozone, the three main air pollutants of concern in Europe.

Why are the emissions hazardous to our health?

The emissions from diesel contains very fine soot particulates. These fine particulates are also known as PM10 (particulate matter less than 10 micrometre in diameter) or PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 5 micrometre in diameter). A micrometre is a millionth of a metre. And a human hair is about 90 micrometres in diameter. When these fine particulates are present in the air, they enter our bodies and cause damage to our heart and lungs.

Diesel emissions have been classified as carcinogenic (causing cancer) by the World Health Organisation, which means that reducing diesel emissions is especially important for health. You can find out more details on these issues on the World Health Organisation air quality pages.

Use ultra low and low emission filters

A cost-efficient way to comply with the LEZ and ULEZ in London is to retrofit your diesel vehicles and machines with diesel particulate filters (DPFs). Sometimes they are also referred to as low or ultra low emission filters. These filters catch many of the dangerous particulates before they exit the exhaust system. This solution will work in some other low emission zones as well. If you are uncertain about what the regulations are in your city, please get in touch with us or the appropriate authorities.

Nothing is perfect and DPFs come with their own sets of challenges, for example you might have to adjust your driving-style and make sure to clean the filters regularly. But low emission filters will not just make sure that you follow the rules, you will also contribute to making the air in your city cleaner for your co-workers, friends and family that live there. The pros far outweigh the cons. For your wallet and for the health of yourself and people you care about. Please get in touch with us to discuss
what filter might be a good fit for you.