The latest studies on asphalt in connection with fine dust are causing a stir: Is the car only the lesser evil and is it wrongly portrayed as a bogeyman by politicians and the media?
In cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, the renowned Yale University in the eastern USA has analysed the behaviour of asphalt under certain environmental influences such as summer sunlight. The result could cause a sensation. According to the aforementioned study, the motor vehicle with its emissions is no longer the only big player when it comes to fine dust generation. During long periods of heat, the sun heats up and softens the bitumen-based road surface, releasing considerably more pollutants and even fine dust (particle size 2.5 µm) than expected. For decades, the automobile has been notorious as an environmental destroyer - politicians have reacted with a wide variety of measures, for example in Europe with the well-known environmental zones. Unjustly so?
Not entirely, but experts still see the findings of the study from Mainz and Yale as a start into a new era. Will these results change the mindset of legislators, but does the study have the potential to ease the constantly drastic requirements for environmental zones and the like?
A small example to understand the real implications: Los Angeles has the highest density of motor vehicles in the world and yet asphalt produces more particulate emissions than all vehicles combined.
This is a dangerous alarm signal that must and should make Brussels think and act.