T&E, a European environmental NGO focusing on sustainable transport, reports that the European Commission is set to propose new noise and energy efficiency standards for tires with a blanket exemption for SUVs, according to draft rules seen by the organization.
Research presented by the German environment agency (Umweltbundesamt, UBA) to the World Health Organization last week showed that traffic noise poses the same risks to health as passive smoking and is responsible for more damage to public health overall than road traffic accidents.
T&E published a report in February showing that close to half of all Europeans are regularly exposed to traffic noise levels that are potentially dangerous to health. The report found that noise from rail and road transport is linked to 50,000 fatal heart attacks every year and 200,000 cases of cardio-vascular disease in the EU.
According to T&E, apart from the SUV exemption, half of all car tires sold today already comply with the proposed new noise limits.
The tire proposals also set new standards for the rolling-resistance of tires which T&E characterizes as unambitious. The organization estimates that more than 50% of the market already meet the second (final) stage of the proposed limits. If the average tire sold in Europe was as good as the current state of the art, there would be at least a 5% reduction in overall CO2 emissions from cars, according to the organization.
The European Commission proposal on new tire standards is due to be published on Friday 23 May.
Dr W. Babisch, German Federal Environment Agency, presentation to World Health Organization expert meeting on Practical Guidance for Risk Assessment of Environmental Noise, 15 May 2008, Bonn