Sensors will be used to detect high-polluting vehicles
DENVER ” Starting next month, mobile sensors around the Denver area will be used to find cars pumping out too much pollution into the air.
The sensors, in vans parked around metro Denver, have been used to find low-polluting vehicles on the road, allowing them to save a trip to an emissions testing center for routine checks. But in January they’ll start looking for the dirtiest vehicles, recording the license plate numbers and telling the owners to bring them in for an emission test to confirm the results.
The sensors shine infrared and ultraviolet light beams at tailpipes to see if they’re emitting too much of the pollutants that cause ground-level ozone and smog.
The move comes as the state tries to reduce pollution in the Denver area after the region failed to meet the federal ozone standards this summer. Ground-level ozone is created when the sun bakes pollutants such as vehicle exhaust, wildfire smoke and vapors from everything from paint cans to oil and gas wells.
The state is targeting the small number of cars responsible for a large part of the metro area’s pollution.
“This is the next generation in emissions testing,” said Garry Kaufman, manager of the mobile-sources program for the Colorado Department of Public Health.
Owners of the high-pollution vehicles caught by the sensors will be notified by mail that they must report for the confirming test. The test will be free but drivers will have to pay for any repairs needed to reduce emissions, such as replacing spark plugs and wires and oxygen sensors and oxidation catalysts.
If vehicles still don’t meet emissions standards after the repairs, drivers can get temporary waivers to continue driving them if they spend at least $715.
Drivers who fail to show up for the test or make repairs will be fined $100 and won’t be able to renew their registrations.
Denver-area vehicles more than 4 years old must undergo emissions testing every two years and most of them pass. Kaufman said eventually the remote testing could eliminate the need for routine testing for most vehicles by spotting the worst polluters on the road.
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