Traffic is now the biggest polluter


Research carried out by the Flemish Environmental Agency (VMM) shows that traffic now poses more of a threat to the environment than the industrial sector. Diesel cars, in particular, are a major problem, as they pollute the air with particulate matter.

The VMM has compiled a so-called State of the Environment Report for Flanders (MIRA). It shows that traffic has leapfrogged the industry as the worst polluter. This is because the industrial sector has done major efforts to become cleaner over the past 10 years, while traffic hasn’t followed this trend. Cars have become more economical, but at the same time motorists are doing more kilometres.

Flanders has many diesel cars, and many of them lack a particulate filter. At the same time, the densely populated area gives rise to many traffic jams, and the traffic is especially busy as Flanders occupies a central location in Europe. Flanders is an industrialised region, and this attracts lorries and trucks running on diesel.

The air quality in Flanders is not good. A major problem is posed by particulate matter in the air, and this is caused by traffic emissions. It is estimated that each year, diseases related to the pollution cost the National Health Service 5.22 billion euros.

 The environmental pressure group Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL) is looking to the government to tackle the problem. It is hoping that traffic can be reduced by a congestion tax, more park-and-ride areas and more investments in public transport to convince the people to leave the car home.