Assessing the impact of vehicle speed limits and fleet composition on air quality near a school

Jiayi Tang, Aonghus McNabola, Bruce Misstear, Francesco Pilla, M.S. Alam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Traffic is a major source of urban air pollution that affects health, especially among children. As lower speed limits are commonly applied near schools in many cities, and different governments have different policies on vehicle fleet composition, this research estimated how different speed limits and fleet emissions affect air quality near a primary school. Based on data of traffic, weather, and background air quality records in Dublin from 2013, traffic, emission, and dispersion models were developed to assess the impact of different speed limits and fleet composition changes against current conditions. Outside the school, hypothetical speed limit changes from 30 km/h to 50 km/h could reduce the concentration of NO2 and PM10 by 3% and 2%; shifts in the fleet from diesel to petrol vehicles could reduce these pollutants by 4% and 3% but would increase the traffic-induced concentrations of CO and Benzene by 63% and 35%. These changes had significantly larger impacts on air quality on streets with higher pollutant concentrations. Findings suggest that both road safety and air quality should be considered when determining speed limits. Furthermore, fleet composition has different impacts on different pollutants and there are no clear benefits associated with incentivising either diesel or petrol engine vehicles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number149
Number of pages23
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jan 2019


  • traffic emissions
  • speed limit
  • vehicle fleet
  • air pollution
  • school children


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