its location, and whether visible or not, poor air quality is hazardous
to the environment and human health. The largest single source of poor
air quality is vehicle emissions. Automotive emissions account for
approximately 50% of the air emissions in New Brunswick, especially in
(photo: NB Lung Association)
"Pollution from vehicles can contain fine particles and over
1,000 contaminants, and contribute to the formation of ground-level
ozone and smog," says Kenneth Maybee, President and CEO of the New
Brunswick Lung Association. "These pollutants are the cause of a
variety of health and environ- mental problems, as well as contributing
to vegetation damage and reduced visibility."
For gasoline-fueled vehicles, the pollutants of greatest concern are
carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic com- pounds,
particulate matter and toxics, such as benzene. For diesel-fueled
vehicles, the most hazardous pollutants are emissions of sulphur oxides,
nitrogen oxides, acid aerosols and particulate matter (PM).
The various constituents of vehicle exhaust, and their photochemical
products, are known to either cause or exacerbate a number of ailments
in humans. Adverse health symptoms have been observed even at low levels
of atmospheric pollution. Increasing levels of pollutants have been
shown to increase: asthma symptom days; chronic bronchitis; respiratory
hospital admissions; cardiac hospital admissions; emergency room visits;
acute respiratory symptoms; restricted activity days; and increases in
"However, the bottom line is that vehicle emissions can be
reduced by following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance
schedule; ensuring vehicle maintenance is performed and upheld, and
having one’s vehicle serviced as soon as sudden differences in fuel
mileage or engine performance is noticed," says Maybee.
"Unfortunately, these actions are the ideal and not necessarily the
To place the spotlight on vehicle emissions and their detrimental
effect on air quality and human health, the New Brunswick Lung
Association was asked in 1997 by the New Brunswick Department of
Environment to conduct a year long study called the Smog Free New
Brunswick Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Development Project to
investigate the latest developments regarding vehicle emission reduction
programs and how they could possibly be applied in the province. That
report was submitted to the province in July 1998. (Summary reports are
available from the New Brunswick Lung Association upon request).
(photo: NB Lung Association)
"The overall goal of the Smog Free New Brunswick Vehicle
Inspection and Maintenance Development Project is the development and
design of a vehicle emissions reduction program tailored to meet the
needs of New Brunswickers that will effectively contribute to the
improvement of the overall air quality in the province," he
The Project’s Final Report presents the results of the Steering
Committee’s investigations along with their recommendations regarding
options for the province. The final report of Phase One of the project
makes clear recommendations for supporting the requirements for:
The development of a voluntary vehicle emissions program for
Saint John or the Saint John-Moncton corridor.
The enactment of anti-tampering legislation.
The development of a pro-active, province-wide communications,
education and awareness campaign directed at both the public and the
automotive repair industry in support of vehicle maintenance, green
transportation initiatives and anti-tampering legislation.
These recommendations would be carried out in several phases. The
next phase of the project would involve the research, development, test
piloting, evaluation and delivery of a province-wide awareness,
education and communications campaign. This campaign would be geared
toward both the general public and the automotive industry.
This phase would also involve the research, develop, test pilot and
evaluation of the strategy and materials necessary for the delivery of a
voluntary vehicle inspection program in the Saint John - Moncton area in
Phase Three of the project.
The focus of the communication, education and awareness campaign
would be to develop a pro-active, province-wide campaign geared to both
the public and to those in the automotive repair industry to support and
promote positive actions people can take toward the reduction of air
pollutants, and greenhouse gases in particular, and anti-tampering
legislation. The campaign would promote the wide variety of activities
citizens can do to combat climate change, with the major focus of the
campaign being the need for proper maintenance of a vehicle’s
pollution control devices, and to drive home the benefits of
anti-tampering legislation in the fight to reduce the effects of climate
"The strategies that will be used will highlight the myths that
presently exist, for example, if I remove or disconnect a pollution
control device, I will save on gas - nothing could be farther from the
truth," says Maybee. "The main theme of this next phase of the
project is that as citizens we all have a role to play vis-a-vis the
upkeep of our personal motor vehicles in helping to reduce greenhouse
gas emissions, and improve climate change and air quality in
Communications with and the education of automotive industry partners
is also an essential ingredient of a successful program. The project’s
steering committee stressed the need for good information, better
education and an awareness campaign that will ensure industry
understanding, support and buy-in.
New Brunswick has an advantage over most of the other provinces in
that, because of its annual Safety Inspection requirement, it has
legislation and enforcement in place that should make the transition to
some form of Inspection and Maintenance program much easier than for
most other provinces. It appears that a visual inspection Anti-Tampering
Program could be added to the existing Safety Inspection system with
little additional burden to the local service and repair industry.
Anti-tam- pering legislation enforces the requirement to check and
verify the existence of a vehicle’s pollution control devices.
(photo: NB Lung Association)
Anti-tampering legislation would be one tool for highlighting
consumer and industry responsibility for improving air quality and
reducing greenhouse gases. Of the nine voluntary vehicle clinics that
the New Brunswick Lung Association has hosted, results indicate that on
that 15% of the vehicles have been tampered with. Due to the
voluntary nature of the clinics, it is believed that the actual
tampering rate of the vehicle fleet is much higher.
Another component of the next phase of the project involves laying
the groundwork for the project’s implementation phase - the actual
running of a voluntary vehicle inspection program. The implementation
phase would encourage motorists in Saint John or the Saint John-Moncton
corridor to get a free vehicle emissions test at participating
automotive centres during a designated time period. These tests would
involve the actual testing of emissions, unlike an annual inspection
which involved only a visual inspection of pollution control devices.
With the test, program participants would receive a copy of their
emissions readings; a brochure about reducing vehicle emissions and
other actions they can take to reduce greenhouse gases; and an "I
Drive SMOG FREE" window sticker if their emissions are within the
established guidelines. (Smog Free stands for "Save Money on Gas -
From Reduced Exhaust Emissions".)
(photo: Sean Phinney)
"As value added, throughout the next phases of this project, the
New Brunswick Lung Association will continue to host voluntary vehicle
inspection clinics to maintain the public’s attention on vehicle
emissions, their effect on climate change and individual responsibility
for improving air quality," explains Maybee. Clinics will be
held this year, one to be held in Fredericton and another is scheduled
to be held in Saint John.
"When You Can’t
Breathe, Nothing Else Matters"