The UK government recently announced a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel engine cars from 2040, amid fears that rising levels of nitrogen oxide are posing a major risk to public health. The government claims that the ban must take place due to the unnecessary and avoidable impact that poor air quality is having on the general public’s health. Although over the past 15 years, government data shows that the UK has made huge steps towards improving air quality, it is felt that the only way to improve the issue and to keep the issue at bay is to ban the worst generators of the pollutant for good.
Nitrogen Oxide reacts in the atmosphere to form Nitrogen Dioxide, which causes adverse effects on health. It has been shown that long term exposure to Nitrogen Dioxide can have many serious health issues to the public, such as long-term exposure decreasing lung function, increased risk of respiratory conditions and increased response to allergens. Of course, as Nitrogen Dioxide is in the atmosphere around us, it is impossible to avoid breathing this in. Therefore the health affects are only set to continue if nothing is done to solve and improve the atmospheric conditions.
Not only is this having effects on the public’s health, the environment is also struggling to cope with the higher levels in the atmosphere. The emissions produced by petrol and diesel vehicles are reacting within the atmosphere in incredibly harmful ways, such as the formation of acid rain, smog and ground-level ozone formation to the environment; not only affecting us but also affecting our plants and crops.
The government hopes that the ban of petrol and diesel engine cars will lead to a switch to less harmful electric vehicles and increase in use of other forms of public, less harmful transport. It is hoped that developments within electric vehicles during the run up to 2040 will allow this switch to be easier and more convenient for the general public. Improvements are already in progress with ultra-fast charging to be rolled out this year, allowing for longer distances on less charge, whilst prices of electric vehicles are set to continue to decrease as they become more popular as time goes on.