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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 2163

Senator Wright - Earlier today Senator

Laucke asked me the following question, without notice, which you. Mr President, directed be placed on the notice paper.

My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science concerns the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in the air pollution field. Has the Minister's attention been drawn to that section of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution which records that the United States of America has set the allowable exposure to carbon monoxide at a level of 50 parts per million and that readings of up to 80 parts per million of carbon monoxide have been recorded in some Sydney streets during the peak traffic hours? Has the CSIRO tested an exhaust emission control unit for motor cars which is being produced by Duncan McWade Industries Pty Ltd of Condell Park, New South Waies? Have these tests confirmed ihe manufacturer's claim that the unit reduces carbon monoxide emission by an average of 33 per cent? Were the figures arrived nl in those tests below the Australian standard as now set? In view of the singularly dangerous characteristics of carbon monoxide, being odourless, colourless and highly toxic, with a cumulative effect on the blood stream, I ask: Will consideration be given to setting carbon monoxide levels for motor vehicle exhausts at the levels now possible by the use of control units such as that now being provided by the McWade organisation?

The Minister for Education and Science has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1)   I am aware that the Report from the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution records that the maximum concentration of carbon monoxide for eight hour occupational exposures has recently been reduced from 100 ppm to 50 ppm in the United Stales 1 am also aware that trie Reports records that, on occasions during peak hour traffic in Sydney, carbon monoxide levels have reached a maximum of 80 ppm with an average value of 50 ppm.

(2)   At the request of the Prime Minister, CSIRO did arrange for 2 emission control units to be tested by the University of Melbourne, in early 1971. One of these had been manufactured by Duncan McWade Instruments Pty Ltd.

(3)   The limited tests carried out showed that the McWade unit presented for testing reduced carbon monoxide emision by 33 per cent, but made a barely significant reduction in the emission of nitrogen oxides which are at least equally important as pollutants as is carbon monoxide. Since these teSts were made on only one vehicle, and on one McWade emission control unit, the use of the word "average' is not justified. The levels of carbon monoxide emission from the test vehicle both before and after the attachment of Mr McWade's device were lower than the maximum set by Australian Design Rule No. 26 for Vehicle Emission Control, as endorsed by the Australian Transport Advisory Council.

(4)   The question of motor vehicle emission controls is kept continuously under review by Transport Ministers on the Australian Transport Advisory Council. Vehicle emissions also concern the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Environment Council. I understand that both these Councils also have the question of motor vehicle emission standards under review.

Regarding the setting of emission standards this is a particular matter concerning each of these Councils al the present time. I am assured that the respective Committees of these Councils which deal with motor vehicle emissions arc taking into account all available technology and the likely cost of introducing further controls. Hangondevices such as the McWade unit are closely examined with a view to their suitability for use on existing motor vehicles. However, I must point out that so far as new vehicles are concerned, the question of how Design Rule specifications may best be met is a matter for the motor vehicle manufacturer to decide.

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