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Understanding and mitigating the effects on public health of emerging non-regulated nanoparticle emissions issues and noise


Proposals can focus on one or both of the following subtopics, but must be ready to work in cooperation and share results with other selected or running proposals particularly as far as data and material for experimentation (particle samples for health testing, for instance) are concerned:

1) Transport nanoparticles

All bullet points within this subtopic must be addressed:

  • Assessing and understanding the biological processes leading to negative effects on human beings and animals (including sex and gender differences, when relevant) in particular impacts of nanoparticles below 100 nm on carcinogenesis in multiple organs including both inflammation effects and the ""Trojan Horse"" effect of the different chemicals constituting or absorbed on the particles, as well as combined effects of the various components of exhaust gases. Work should consider both aged and fresh aerosols, include primary and secondary volatile and not volatile particles, in particular considering the significant emerging component of extremely fine nanoparticles (below 23 and even 10 nm) constituting a large share of exhausts from certain types of engines like gasoline and natural gas ones.
  • Assessing if and what variability of these effects exists with size, chemical composition and morphology, linking as far as possible the impacts with specific emission sources and leading to an understanding and quantification of the risks posed by different types and sources of particles. This research should cover all types of transport-related particles sources (both exhaust and non-exhaust, from road, rail, aviation and shipping) taking into account results from previously funded research projects in the same areas.
  • Evaluating the possible future impact of new policies in this area on public health and well-being of citizens and acceptance of the negative economic impacts that could derive from them.

2) Reduction of noise and particles emissions from tyres

All bullet points within this subtopic must be addressed:

  • Assessment and characterisation (respectively for at least one representative car and truck tyre size), of the amounts of tyre particles emitted in different driving conditions (acceleration, braking, different constant speeds, corner driving) both in laboratory and on real roads with on-boards system, by implementing sensors and analysing nanoparticles characteristics (size, distribution, chemical composition) determining in particular the number and mass shares of particles contributing to PM10, PM2.5 and PM0.1. The effects of chemical transformations of these particles in the air, if any relevant ones are possible, should be assessed to verify if any other negative health effect can be defined and quantified.
  • Evaluation of traffic noise effect on the cardiovascular system, assessing which type of noise (impulsive or background) has the most consequence on health taking into account sex and gender differences when relevant, in order to influence the development methodologies for limiting noise, and to anticipate future legislation and emerging issues.
  • Develop innovative tyres of heavy-duty freight transport optimised for low noise, rolling resistance, wear and therefore particles emissions, particularly in cruise conditions, while keeping a sufficient level of all other relevant performance parameters (traction, skid resistance, etc.). Due consideration should be taken of all road surface types in Europe present on extra-urban roads, and potential for co-optimisation should be considered if this can deliver global benefits without compromising the specific design features of tyres and road surfaces in the different environments for which they have been developed and for other types of vehicles (i.e. an improvement of road surface for trucks should not lead to worsening performances for other vehicles).
  • From the above experience, development of reliable and repeatable methodologies for the assessment and comparison of tyre emissions and tread wear for potential future legislation.
  • Particles tracing and quantification of the contribution of tyre wear to the microplastics issue in water bodies (rivers, lakes, seas..) and in the ground.
  • Evaluating the possible future impact of new policies in this area on public health and well-being of citizens and public acceptance of the negative economic impacts that could derive from them.

Proposals in all areas could foresee international cooperation and experience and exploit synergies in view of establishing future international standards and regulations, including contributing to risk governance in the emerging field of nanomaterials (from which some input from relevant research projects could be gained as well).

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 3 to 4 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately.

Growing road traffic in Europe results in detrimental effects on the environment and public health in spite of the gradual emissions reduction due to increasingly stringent emission standards. Some technologies lead to particles of smaller and smaller size that influence the health of citizens living close to traffic, before aging in the atmosphere and contributing to background pollution. Secondary particles from gaseous and volatile engine exhaust components are also coming into focus as a significant health-affecting contribution. Moreover, the effects of some specific emissions (e.g. particles from tyres or natural gas engines) are either not sufficiently understood or remain undetected by current air quality or certification procedures. Finally noise (again in particular from tyres), remains an issue for larger road vehicles, since it would remain so even in the case they were progressively electrified.

The project resulting from these areas shall deliver the following impacts:

  • Enhanced understanding of the health threats posed by particles and noise.
  • Guidance for developing and prioritising mitigation measures in future legislation on air quality and emissions, taking into account social aspects.
  • European and possibly global standards in critical industrial areas like engines and wear components (brakes, clutches and tyres).
  • At least 6dB(A) truck tyre noise reduction in areas which will not benefit from zero emissions vehicles low powertrain noise, i.e. along motorways and urban/periurban thoroughfares at speeds between 50 and 90 kph, where truck tire noise is very relevant.