Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Great News: Confirmation that Diesel Cleanup is Really Working

This is fabulous news: evidence that technology to clean up big diesel engines is really working.  This is a huge plus for public health:

Embargoed For Release: December 4, 2013
For more information:  
Dan Greenbaum, President 617 488 2331
Maria Costantini, Principal Scientist 617 488 2302


(Boston, MA December 4, 2013) The most rigorous emissions testing ever done for modern heavy-duty diesel engines – which power virtually every large truck and bus sold in the United States – has demonstrated a greater than 94% reduction in the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2 - an important contributor to ozone smog), and substantial reductions in all other pollutants, even when compared to engines first marketed to meet 2007 standards, according to a study released today by the Coordinating Research Council (CRC[1]) at  For a number of the most important pollutants, levels were substantially lower than required by regulations.  These 2010 engines represent the newest generation of emission control technology.  They were developed in response to the US Environmental Protection Agency Heavy-Duty On-Highway Diesel Emissions Rule of 2001 which mandated the implementation of strict NOx standards starting in January 2010. The rule also mandated the implementation of a stringent PM standard in engines to be sold starting in January 2007. 

The study, the Phase 2 Report of the comprehensive Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES), found that emissions of NO2  and other nitrogen oxides – which can have direct health effects and contribute to the formation of smog – were approximately 61% below the 2010 EPA standard and 99% lower than in 2004 engines. (See Figure 1 below).  These reductions came while emissions of fine particles – a pollutant of significant public health concern whose emissions have been successively reduced by EPA regulations – were also 99% lower than 2004 emissions[2]. Emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and a number of unregulated, so-called air toxics were also significantly below required levels.

The Phase 2 ACES study was conducted by the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, under the oversight of the CRC.  Investigators tested heavy-duty diesel engines from the three major manufacturers of these engines, and subjected them to well-established federal test procedures, and to a much more rigorous 16-hour operation cycle designed especially for ACES.  All the engines were equipped with after-treatment devices to reduce the emissions of particulate matter as well as oxides of nitrogen.  They were tested on multiple repeats of these cycles, and measurements of over 300 regulated and unregulated air pollutants were made in accordance with the highest laboratory standards.

 ACES is a multi-party five year initiative to test the emissions and health effects of  new technology diesel engines to document the improvements that have been made and to ensure that there are no unintended emissions from this new technology.  The study is being undertaken by the Health Effects Institute (HEI)[3] and the CRC with support from a wide range of government and private sector sponsors, including the US Department of Energy, US Environmental Protection Agency, California Air Resources Board, Engine Manufacturers Association, American Petroleum Institute, and manufacturers of emission control equipment. 

 Overall design and management of ACES – and all laboratory testing of health effects – is being undertaken under the aegis of HEI. All emissions characterization for ACES is being overseen by CRC.  The report issued today summarizes the results of Phase 2 – the emissions characterization of 2010 model year heavy-duty diesel engines.  At the same time, detailed short - term laboratory health testing of emissions from one of the four 2007-compiant engines tested in ACES Phase 1 at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico was  completed and published  in April 2012 in HEI Research Report 166, Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES) Subchronic Exposure Results: Biologic Responses in Rats and Mice and Assessment of Genotoxicity In addition, as this Phase 2 report is issued, long-term laboratory animal exposures have now been completed at LRRI and a full report of the long term health effects of exposure to these new engines is expected in late summer 2014.

For more information, contact Dan Greenbaum, 617 488 2331 or or Maria Costantini, 617 488 2302 or

[1] The Coordinating Research Council (CRC) is a non-profit organization that directs - through committee action - engineering and environmental studies on the interaction between automotive/other mobility equipment and petroleum products.  Through CRC, personnel in the automotive equipment industry, other related mobility industries, and the energy industry can join together with government agencies to work on issues of mutual interest by gathering data and achieving technical consensus.
[2] Although there were no active regenerations of the engines’ particle filters during these tests, total PM emissions are likely to be similar to or lower than  the already low levels seen in the 2007-compliant engines
[3] The Health Effects Institute is an independent, non-profit research institute funded jointly by government and industry to provide credible, high quality science on air pollution and health for air quality decisions.  HEI sponsors do not participate in the selection, oversight or review of HEI science, and HEI’s reports do not necessarily represent their views.

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