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Improving Air Quality: Progress and Challenges for the Auto Industry
  1. M L Williams

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    John K Pearson (pp 225, £34.00) 2001. Hitchin, UK: American Technical Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-7680-0236-2

    This book is unusual in the air pollution literature on two counts. Firstly, its author was a practising scientist in industry, so we get a refreshingly different slant on the issues. Secondly, while the book is heavily science based, it tackles head on that difficult area where science and policy meet or, more often, collide. Pearson does not shirk from pointing out the difficulties with the science, but also the difficult choices for policy. But this is done in a constructive and positive way—it would have been very easy for someone with the author’s background to have delivered a critical polemic; as it is, the book gives a cool critique of the science but then suggests ways through the difficult abatement measures and policy issues in a well balanced final chapter.

    The subject of the book is the policy driven science programmes in Europe and the USA, each of which was known as “Auto-Oil”. These were programmes designed to provide high quality scientific input on air quality emissions, modelling, and emission reduction techniques (including clean fuels) to studies aimed at producing optimum reductions in urban air quality in a selection of European cities, through agreements on EU regulations on vehicle emissions and on automotive fuel compositions. The European Auto-Oil programme was a major tripartite exercise involving the automotive and oil industries and the European Commission.

    The book covers each of the scientific components of this exercise in both the EU and in the USA in a concise, yet comprehensive way. There is an introductory chapter describing the important pollutants, their sources, and effects on health, followed by chapters on air quality legislation in the USA and Europe, on air quality modelling, and on the often “Cinderella” subject of emission inventories. These latter two chapters are particularly good for the non-specialist. Chapters describing the separate European and USA Auto-Oil programmes are followed by one describing the air quality improvements already achieved in the “auto-oil” sector. These have been considerable—the single most significant measure reducing public exposure to air pollutants in the past 10 years has been the catalytic converter. The final chapter has already been mentioned and presents an excellent discussion on the practical steps which could be taken by the automotive and fuel sectors, and by traffic managers in the improvement of air quality.

    Although primarily targeted at automotive engineers, the book will appeal to other scientists with an interest in air quality. It also provides a useful aide memoire for the specialist, particularly as the next phase of the process has just begun via CAFE, which is not an acronym connected with European coffee houses, but an important initiative of the European Commission to harmonise EU legislation in providing Clean Air For Europe.

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