LOS ANGELES - Cars and trucks pollute California air far worse than previously calculated, the state's air board said.
Overall smog isn't worse. Motor vehicles just contribute more airborne junk than thought. This could affect future emissions regulations directed at automakers and consumers.
The California Air Resources Board had not accounted for about 4.5 million vehicles. Those vehicles were one of the following:
New ones in the process of being registered.
Older vehicles that were not currently registered.
The new inventory, released Oct. 29, calculates about 26 million vehicles are on California roads.
MORE THAN CARB THOUGHT
CARB executives said the revised inventory 'will affect emission-control strategies needed to achieve air quality standards.' As now calculated, the state will not meet federal standards by the 2010 deadline.
Said Tom Cackette, the board's deputy executive officer: 'There (are) more emissions than we thought, so there are more emissions to go after.'
In its report, the board also established tougher testing for motor-vehicle emissions that more accurately mirrors California urban driving, such as driving during rush hour. CARB also will begin to factor in vehicle gasoline leaks, which go undetected in smog checks.
Toyota spokesman Jeremy Barnes said the recount probably will affect owners of older or poorly maintained vehicles more than automakers because newer vehicles have made great strides in cleanliness.
BIG DIESEL TRUCKS
As more older vehicles are replaced by newer, cleaner vehicles, the amount of pollutants from autos will decline sharply, added American Honda spokesman Mike Spencer.
The changes in calculations don't just affect light vehicles. Most of the blame for increases in oxides of nitrogen came from CARB learning that many heavy-duty diesel truck engines built between 1988 and 1998 were equipped with devices that increased fuel economy but also increased NOx emissions.
Said CARB Executive Officer Michael Kenny, 'The new inventory will become part of the existing review and updating process for all CARB programs that use on-road motor vehicle information. This improved data will allow us to better fight air pollution in the most logical, cost-effective way.'
The Associated Press contributed to this story