The Issue : NOx and PM Emissions in Japan.
Well O.K. it is not an article about English teaching in Japan however as an English teacher walking around this wonderful country I am concerned about the air I breath. As a young boy I often had to control my emotions as I sat back lamely watching my two younger brothers fight off asthmatic attacks. The inability for any human, especially a child, to find enough oxygen in their lungs is a frightening experience. For some reason the asthma passed me by, I was never directly affected however those years of suffering with my brothers has made me very aware of anything to do with breathing and the respiratory system in general. Over the years this concern has become stronger and stronger within my life and led to me becoming an advocate of quitting both smoking and drinking. I do not smoke nor drink alcohol at all and suggest that to best enjoy life giving up these two, supposed, pleasures is a very good idea. Now today I wish to chat about those blue circular stickers we see attached to an ever increasing number of cars and trucks on the streets in Japan. What are they? in short they are permission slips to allow certified diesels that have passed strict emission control tests to enter and be owned within the city limits. Why do they need to be certified? Because Japan is fighting back hard on the vehicle emissions concern. She is focused doggedly on NOx and PM emissions from vehicles and if your diesel does not have that blue sticker you are not allowed to enter 196 locations in Japan. Bravo Japan!
What is NOx and PM.?
NOx is a the abbreviation used for the mono-nitrogen oxides NO and NO2. These gases are produced during combustion, especially at high temperatures. PM are fine particles emitted during combustion and are better known in our English lessons as “soot”. All in all both NOx and Pm are very bad for our breathing systems and ecology.
Why are NOx and PM Bad ?
Both of these contaminants create health issues for all of us. Respiratory problems, aggravation of heart disease issues, damage to lung tissue and even premature death can all be related to these two pollutants.
These two nasty pollutants lead to acid rain, smog, ground level ozone, global warming, oxygen depletion in water, upset the chemical balance for aquatic wildlife, create acidic lakes and may even be a contributor in biological mutants.
What is Japan Doing?
The good news is that Japan is doing a lot and doing it fast. In the midst of one of the worst financial periods ever seen in Japan strict and expensive laws on combined No no2 (NOx) plus PM truck, bus and car emissions have been made and are being enforced.
Back in 1992 the Ministry of the Environment took the step, “Law Concerning Special Measures to Reduce the Total Amount of Nitrogen Oxides Emitted from Motor Vehicles in Specified Areas” in 2001 the law became even stricter regarding NOx and the government added in controls for PM. This tightening of the 1992 law become effective in 2002. The speed of implementation and the fact that the government made the law retrospective for all “in-use” vehicles, including all commercial vehicles brought the government under heavy fire from the powerful lobby groups of commercial trucking companies and corporate fleet owners. The government stood it’s ground.
Vehicles may be brought into compliance with the new (2001/2) laws using one of two methods. 1. Replace the vehicle with new one that does comply. (well yes sure, I guess that will do it!) 2. Retrofit with approved NOx and PM control devices. (wish I bought shares in a Retrofit company)
The Blue Stickers.
Now here is the reason we see so many of those blue stickers popping up these days. The law allowed a grace period of between 9 and 12 years. Once again pretty fast for this kind of legislation. The number of years varies according to vehicle type. For example and this explains the sudden proliferation of stickers. Light Commercial vehicles had 8 years. Heavy Commercial 9 years. Next year being 2011 brings us to the end of the grace period for these vehicles so get a new vehicle, get a retrofitted kit or don’t come to town. Indeed if you do not comply you will not be able to register your vehicle in any of the 196 designated “no-diesel” areas.
Thank you Japan.
Good on you Japan and thank you very much.