Vehicle fumes kill 200 persons per year

By Maheesha Mudugamuwa

In Sri Lanka alone automobile emissions kill up to 200 people per year, Colombo Municipal Council Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Ruwan Wijemuni told The Island yesterday (31).

He said that with the increase in the number of motor vehicles since 1977 there had been a steady increase in respiratory diseases, especially among the children, due to vehicle fumes containing sulphur dioxide.

Diesel vehicles are responsible for 96-89 per cent of sulfur dioxide and PM10 from the transportation sector.

Meanwhile, Vehicle Emission Testing Programme, Project Director, A. W. Dissanayake said that Sri Lanka has planned to import gas analyzers from Germany to carry out comprehensive roadside inspections and to measure air pollution levels in the country.

The equipment would be received by the end of the year and the government would spend around Rs. 50 million to import 45 gas analyzers at Rs. 1.1 million each, Dissanayake said.

"The new equipment will help monitor dangerous gas levels in the air and monitor vehicles that emit smoke and noise over the recommended standards," Dissanayake said.

He explained that two machines would be distributed to each district and the remaining machines would be allocated to the Motor Traffic Department (MTD) and the Central Environment Authority (CEA).

He added that it was the lack of the required equipment that had prevented the authorities from taking strict action in relation to air pollution.

Dissanayake said that awareness programmes were in progress to introduce the vehicle emission tests in the Northern Province, a region recovering from the three-decade-long war.

"Vehicle emission tests will start next month in the Northern Province," he added.

According to Dissanayake the vehicle emission tests will initially, be conducted in the Jaffna district and later on in Kilinochchi, Vavuniya, Mannar and Mullaitivu districts.

The emission test is compulsory for the issue of license of vehicles in all the other Provinces except Northern Province.

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