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This new crackdown on semi-trucks could save thousands of lives

The EPA predicts a 48% reduction of NOx pollution from heavy-duty vehicles by 2045

semi truck pollution

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At the end of 2022, the government finalized new standards for heavy-duty trucks and buses under the Clean Trucks Plan, an Environmental Protection Agency effort to curb polluting gases in the transportation sector. These new regulations are 80% stronger than the ones they'll replace.

This is especially important because heavy-duty vehicles are a particular concern when it comes to pollution. Diesel engines, more commonly found in such vehicles, create greater amounts of nitrogen oxides (or NOx) than conventional gas-powered engines do. This compound reacts with other chemicals in the air to create pollution that can cause a variety of respiratory diseases, like asthma.

These new regulations will help curb these toxic fumes in several ways. By 2027, all new heavy-duty vehicles will be required to meet a lowered NOx output, and they'll have control systems that can resist tampering by drivers trying to get around the law.

Additionally, manufacturers will have to account for the NOx emissions created when these heavy-duty vehicles are idling, which is critical.

Heavy-duty vehicles create dangerous NOx most often during these "low-load" periods, which is when the engine is running but the vehicle isn't moving — like waiting at a loading dock or being caught in stop-and-go traffic. These are also the periods of time when pedestrians, workers, or even passengers will be in closest proximity to these toxic fumes, so curtailing them will reduce their impact on respiratory health.

The Environmental Protection Agency predicts a 48% reduction of NOx pollution from heavy-duty vehicles by 2045, which would mean approximately 18,000 fewer cases of childhood asthma. 

As a complement to these regulations, the EPA also announced new rules on April 12 to set "more stringent standards" for trucks produced after 2028. Until greener modes of transport become more common, new regulations are an important step in the fight for cleaner air and a healthier planet for everyone.

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