Outdoor air pollution was recently classified as carcinogenic to humans by the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). According to the press release, The IARC evaluation showed an increasing risk of lung cancer with increasing levels of exposure to particulate matter and air pollution. Although the composition of air pollution and levels of exposure can vary dramatically between locations, the conclusions of the Working Group apply to all regions of the world. As stated in 2010, 223 000 deaths from lung cancer worldwide resulted from air pollution and the predominant sources of outdoor air pollution are transportation, stationary power generation, industrial and agricultural emissions, and residential heating and cooking.

Hydrogen and fuel cells can significantly help to reduce carbon and other emissions in transport, heat and power sectors and thus combat air pollution and related cancer deaths:

  • Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) powered with renewable hydrogen have zero well-to-wheel emissions and produce between 0g (for hydrogen produced from renewable sources) and ~85g (for hydrogen produced from fossil fuels) of CO2/km, compared to a gasoline internal combustion engine, which produces approximately ~170g of CO2/km.
  • Hydrogen powered fuel cells for transport operations improve general air quality by eliminating all oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter from vehicle exhausts.
  • A 2kW stationary fuel cell CHP unit can save up to 5 tonnes of CO2 per household per annum depending on the installation while fuel cells enable wider uptake of combined heat and power generation at 80-90% overall efficiency.

Dennis Hayter, Chair of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association said: “The classification of air pollution as carcinogenic to humans mandates immediate actions to reduce carbon and other emissions. The early introduction of FCEVs and associated infrastructure, as well as prompt roll-out of fuel cell CHP systems for domestic and commercial use, is highly recommended. Hydrogen and fuel cells contribute to air quality improvements, carbon reduction targets, deliver green jobs, address the intermittency of renewables and enhance the security of supply and this needs to be recognised at the national and international level.”

You can find out more about hydrogen and fuel cells at: http://www.ukhfca.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Hydrogen-and-Fuel-Cells-benefits.pdf

The full IARC press release is available at: http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/pr221_E.pdf

UK HFCA highlights the role of hydrogen and fuel cells in reducing outdoor air pollution and related cancer deaths