What are Diesel Emissions?

Felicia Dye

Diesel emissions refer to air pollution caused by this type of fuel. Many people are aware of the global effort to reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases. Some may not realize, however, that diesel is one source of the problem. For this reason, governments often try to regulate this type of pollution.

Diesel fuel creates emissions when burned.
Diesel fuel creates emissions when burned.

Diesel is a fossil fuel. When it is burned, gases such as carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, and nitrogen dioxide are released. These diesel emissions contaminate the air, which can have a number of consequences on peoples’ health and on the environment. This problem is created by individuals when they drive diesel-burning vehicles and by industrial entities when they use machinery whose operation is dependent on this type of fuel.

Diesel emissions contaminate the air.
Diesel emissions contaminate the air.

Governments often try to regulate diesel emissions because of the negative effects they have. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the carbon content in diesel can vary. As a result, diesel emissions can aggravate the carbon problem at varying rates because fuel that has a lot of carbon will produce a higher rate of pollution. To control this, some governments, such as those in the United States, New Zealand, and Brazil, outline standards the fuel must meet before it is distributed to users.

Another way that regulation is carried out is by mandating which vehicles are suitable for sale or use. In many countries, vehicles cannot be driven or sold if their diesel emissions exceed a certain amount. This has motivated car manufacturers to build cars that burn fuel in a cleaner way.

Governments may also attempt to regulate diesel emissions by dictating Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) in the workplace. Allowing the air in a workspace to become polluted beyond a certain degree is commonly considered to be an occupational hazard. In some instances, the government may dictate actions that need to be taken to reduce the emissions. In other instances, limits are set and it is the responsibility of individual businesses to determine how they will comply.

The issue of reducing diesel emissions is often so important that governments will offer incentives for individuals to go beyond what is required. One way this is done is by offering research and development grants for clean fuel technology. Another method is offering tax incentives for those who purchase more environmentally friendly equipment or who upgrade to cleaner operating methods.

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