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The Air Quality Expert Group (AQEG) publish two scientific advice notes for Defra and the Devolved Administrations

News published: 30/03/2011

1. Road Transport Biofuels: Impact on UK Air Quality

This advice note looks at recent trends in biofuel consumption in the UK and summarises the effects of biofuels on vehicle emissions and air quality based on current evidence. The advice note addresses only the direct effects of consumption of biofuels on air quality in the UK resulting from end of tailpipe emissions.

AQEG recognise that tailpipe emissions are only one of many aspects which need to be considered in the full context of biofuel production and use and is not meant to diminish the importance of wider sustainability issues, both in the UK and globally.

AQEG conclude that consumption of biofuels as low strength blends up to 15% has little effect on air quality, but further research on the effects of high strength blends on emissions is required if their consumption were to be encouraged. AQEG also recommends further research on the effects of different strengths of biodiesel fuels on mass emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), primary nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter (PM) and the characterisation of particulate matter and chemical composition of organic compounds emitted from modern diesel engines and vehicle technologies so that the full air quality impacts of biodiesel consumption can be assessed.

The full advice note can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/road-transport-biofuels-impact-on-uk-air-quality

2. Understanding PM10 at Port Talbot

AQEG was asked by the Department and the Welsh Assembly Government to provide an independent expert opinion on:

"What methodologies or approaches are required to advance the evidence base in order to assess the impact of the different current particle sources within the Port Talbot area on the resultant particulate matter (PM) levels in the local area?"

The town of Port Talbot experiences elevated concentrations of PM10 (Particulate Matter, small particles of less than 10 micrometres in diameter), over and above those seen in neighbouring areas.

The attribution of sources of PM10 remains unclear despite numerous measurement and analysis programmes extending back over a decade Without a clear understanding of the main contributing sources it will be difficult to develop appropriate programmes to limit the emissions contributing to the high levels of PM10

AQEG reviewed a range of evidence, including published reports and material gathered at a public evidence session held at Port Talbot. In the advice note AQEG make a series of recommendations intended to provide guidance on the future evidence gathering in Port Talbot to better understand the sources of PM10.

The full advice note can be found at http://ww2.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/air/air-quality/committees/aqeg/publications6/

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