City smog expected to lift with new diesel

January 19, 2011

San José’s smog-choked skies may become a bit cleaner as cargo trucks and buses convert to a new diesel product.

The diesel will be introduced to the Costa Rican market following the publication of a decree in the official government newspaper La Gaceta. The diesel contains a lower sulfur content, which is expected to cut sulfur dioxide emissions by as much as 90 percent.

Costa Rica is the first country to make the shift in Central America, where limits on sulfur content continue to be as high as 5,000 parts per million (ppm). The new product Diesel 50 contains 50 ppm of sulfur. The diesel has long been used in Europe and North America. Most developed countries are now aiming for sulfur contents of less than 10 percent.

According to a press release from the National Oil Refinery (Recope), sulfur dioxide emissions amounted to 800 tons in 2010. The use of the new diesel is expected to slice emissions to 80 tons annually.

“The considerable potential in reducing emissions is a benefit for the health of all Costa Ricans as higher quality air can result in the decrease of respiratory sicknesses, cardiac problems and cancer,” read the Recope release.

Costa Rica shifted to a sulfur content of less than 500 ppm in 2009, making the leap to 50 ppm in 2011 with the aim of reaching 15 ppm in 2014.

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