By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – The Ministry of Environment will start today a campaign to raise awareness to the dangers of fumes emitted by vehicles, in a bid to curb air pollution, a senior government official said on Saturday.

The two-month campaign aims at raising motorists’ awareness about the importance of protecting the environment by carrying out regular maintenance to their vehicles and refraining from littering, Minister of Environment Taher Shakhshir said yesterday in a statement issued by the ministry.

The campaign will target vehicles operating on diesel, which emit excessive harmful gases due to the low quality of diesel and poor vehicle maintenance, ministry spokesperson Isa Shboul told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The quality of diesel produced by the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company (JPRC) is very poor due to the high percentage of sulphur, which is hundreds of times higher than the allowed limits, according to environmentalists.

Jordan specified in May 2005 that diesel from the refinery should have a maximum of 350 parts per notation (ppn) sulphur, but the standard has not been applied, environment experts said, warning that diesel currently produced by the refinery contains 10,000-12,000ppn sulphur.

In the statement, Shakhshir underscored the fact that his ministry is coordinating with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the JPRC to improve the quality of diesel produced in Jordan.

“It is no longer acceptable to see clouds of smog coming from vehicles, especially those operating on diesel, which impacts public health and the environment,” Shakhshir said.

Diesel exhaust fumes contain pollutants that may increase the risk of asthma, respiratory problems and cancer. Bits of soot, called particulate matter, and gases threaten health when diesel exhaust fumes are inhaled, according to web sources.

Article 35, paragraph one of the Traffic Law number 49 of the year 2008 stipulates that vehicles found emitting fumes are fined JD40, Shboul said.

Under the campaign, which will be implemented in cooperation with the Public Security Department and the Rangers, motorists will receive brochures explaining the negative effect of vehicle emissions and how carrying out vehicle maintenance can save money by reducing fuel consumption.