AMA Backs Mandatory Use of Ethanol in Petrol on Health Grounds

AMA President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, has today written to the Government's Biofuels Taskforce detailing the AMA's support for the mandatory use of ethanol in petrol in the interests of protecting and improving human health.

Dr Haikerwal said the AMA wants to see the biofuels debate in Australia shift from economic issues to human health issues.

"The AMA is a strong advocate on initiatives related to environmental impacts on human health such as global warming," Dr Haikerwal said.

"We are equally passionate about the impact of vehicle emissions on human health and we would encourage governments to pursue responsible measures to reduce emissions.

"The AMA considers the use of biofuels such as ethanol in petrol as a positive move.

"In our opinion, there is incontrovertible evidence that the addition of ethanol to petrol and biodiesel to diesel will reduce the deaths and ill-health associated with the emissions produced by burning those fuels," Dr Haikerwal said.

According to the AMA's submission to the Biofuels Taskforce, there are three components of present vehicle emissions that have been shown to damage human health:

  • the particulates (particularly PM 2.5);
  • the aromatic component (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons); and
  • the gaseous irritants such as ozone (O3) and nitrous oxide (NO2).

The AMA supports any interventions that will reduce the above three emissions and their impacts.

The AMA believes that the following interventions would reduce the negative health impacts:

  • introduction of mandatory biofuel blends (petrol with 10% ethanol and diesel with 20% biodiesel)
  • reduction of highly toxic aromatics such as benzene in petrol
  • replacement of petrol/diesel vehicles with those that use liquid petroleum gas (LPG) or compressed natural gas (CNG);
  • installation of in-tunnel filters and gas-detoxification systems in vehicular tunnels in heavily populated cities.

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