BRUSSELS – A leaked draft of proposals for a new European Union regulation on real-driving emissions from cars and light-commercial vehicles would allow the vehicles to emit 50% more potentially lung-cancer-causing particulates than under current air-quality standards, an environmental group claims.

A spokesperson for Transport & Environment, a sustainable-transport organization, contends the proposals amount to efforts to weaken already-inadequate regulation. The latest proposed controls “are paving the way for a future ‘petrolgate’ air-pollution scandal,” T&E claims.

Lucia Caudet, spokesperson for the European Commission’s directorate-general for internal markets, industry, entrepreneurship and small and medium-sized enterprises, tells WardsAuto the draft, called RDE3, is being discussed by the EU’s Technical Committee of Motor Vehicles, with a vote expected by year-end.

Afterward, the European Parliament and EU Council of Ministers have three months to assess, accept or block the proposal.

Under the draft seen by WardsAuto, the EC sets a 50% “permissible tolerance” level in RDE tests using the portable-emissions-measurement system for particle-number emissions in gasoline direct-injection engines.

Florent Grelier, T&E’s clean-vehicles engineer, says the EC proposes a 50% conformity limit because portable systems have a greater measurement error on the road compared with different devices used in laboratories.

“Our position is it should be 30%, based on results from the Commission’s in-house Joint Research Center,” Grelier says, noting the auto industry has asked that the tolerance level be set at 300%.

“Our other concern is that the current (portable) devices do not measure the whole range of particles,” he says. “The current EU particle definition is based on particles emitted by diesel engines, while those emitted by new petrol-engine cars are much smaller and more harmful to human health.”