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Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Feb;112(2):132-41.

An evaluation of the environmental and health effects of vehicle exhaust catalysts in the UK.

Author information

1
Environmental Epidemiology Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom. emma.hutchinson@lshtm.ac.uk

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.

PMID:
14754566
PMCID:
PMC1241821
DOI:
10.1289/ehp.6349
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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