Private association City in Hand has filed a class action against the Antwerp City Government in Belgium for failing to safeguard public health against vehicular pollution.

In its complaint, the association alleged that the city of Antwerp refuses to adjust the Euro norm standards that do not reveal any difference in new and older diesel car emissions.

The association further alleged that the city uses false standards to impose discriminatory penalties on its citizens.

The city of Antwerp was also accused of mandating the installation of regenerative diesel particle filters (DPF), which have been proven to emit up to three times more of the dangerous ultra fine particles (UFP) than without DPFs.

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UFPs are dust particles with a diameter of fewer than 0.1 microns that human tissue fails to block from entering and spreading in the body.

“In addition to demanding reimbursement of all fines, City in Hand insisted that the city of Antwerp immediately withdraws the low emission zone (LEZ) in its existing form.”

Researchers have revealed that UFPs, which are produced through the regeneration of diesel particulate filters and modern petrol cars, is more injurious to health compared to PM 10 and PM 2.5 fine particulate matter.

In addition to demanding reimbursement of all vehicular pollution fines, City in Hand insisted that the city of Antwerp immediately withdraws the low emission zone (LEZ) in its existing form.

The city of Antwerp failed to measure the impact of the LEZ on the concentration of UFP and just considered the larger, not directly harmful soot particles (particulate matter (PM) 10 and PM 2.5), the association said.

City in Hand has further demanded the abolition of a LEZ in Flanders introduced by the city of Antwerp. Diesel cars that fail to comply with minimum Euro 3 standard without particulate filter are not allowed in the LEZ.

Violators are fined from €150 to €350 each time they enter the zone. Antwerp distributed 81,372 fines for violating the LEZ in 2017 and collected at least €12m. A similar number of fines is expected to be issued this year.

City in Hand has urged that this practice must be stopped and people should be reimbursed the fines.