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Wed 8 Jul 2009 04:00 AM

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Is it a smokescreen?

I read an interesting piece of research during the week. It suggested that soot particulates from diesel fumes can find their way directly to the brain, resulting in poor health. This has been known for a long time of course, but these new findings reckon that particles that are microscopically small can be found swimming around in your hippocampus within seconds of that Kenworth driving past.

Is it a smokescreen?

I read an interesting piece of research during the week. It suggested that soot particulates from diesel fumes can find their way directly to the brain, resulting in poor health. This has been known for a long time of course, but these new findings reckon that particles that are microscopically small can be found swimming around in your hippocampus within seconds of that Kenworth driving past.

There is reason to doubt these findings – they were published by a special interest group in the UK, whose sole aim is to promote the sale of ‘green’ cars (its top recommendation at the moment is the Honda Insight – which by all accounts is so ghastly, emissions will be saved by people finding excuses not to drive it.) However, there is no doubt that exhaust fumes pollute the air and our bodies in ways that were only just beginning to understand.

So being stuck in an 8,000-truck tailback at the Saudi-Abu Dhabi border can’t have been a pleasant experience for anybody concerned, nor can it have been particularly beneficial to the already fragile ecosystem that makes up the empty quarter.

At about the same time I discovered that there is no tyre recycling as such in the Emirates. Almost all of the millions of truck trailer and car tyres lie on a massive pile in Abu Dhabi. Now, without sounding like I’m moaning, tyre dumps cause air pollution when they catch fire, water pollution as toxins leech into the ground, and they are also a prime breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, as water builds up and stagnates inside them, yet there are no recycling facilities. Furthermore, using them as casings for remoulds is a legal grey area, with one official body confirms that they are legal - as they are in every other jurisdiction in the world Another says that they are not and will fine trucks with them.

All sectors of industry need to clean up their act before Abu Dhabi can start promoting the idea of the emirate as a ‘carbon free’ city.

Greg Whitaker is the editor of Plant Machinery Vehicles Middle East.

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