Petrol service stations in Sydney have been forced to install specially designed nozzles to their bowsers to prevent the escape of cancer-causing vapours.
New South Wales Science Minister Verity Firth was quoted by AAP as telling ABC Radio today that the new system will ensure that vapours are pumped into underground storage tanks.
She also claimed that the new technology would ensure the recycling of vapours into petrol again.
She said the technology had been available in the US and Europe since the mid-1990s, but would be a first for Australia.
The plan comes in response to a NSW parliamentary air pollution inquiry, News Limited reported today.
Premier Morris Iemma has approved a cabinet plan to force service station owners to install the technology.
A report by the Department of Environment and Climate Change said pollutants released when cars were refuelled was a health concern, because motorists breathed in benzene, which could cause cancer.
The parliamentary inquiry found 1600 people die every year in Sydney from illnesses related to air pollution.
Total vehicle kilometres travelled by Australian vehicles reached 201 497 million in 2003, an increase of over four percent per year. On a per capita basis the highest vehicle kilometres travelled was by passenger vehicles (7.61); this was nearly five times that travelled by light commercial vehicles (1.64). The rates of growth in vehicle kilometres travelled continue to rise faster than population; for example, for Sydney the rates were, respectively, 2.2 percent and 1.2 percent per annum.
Projections to 2020 suggest that car traffic volumes will be around a third higher in 2020 compared to 2002.