March 6, 2017
Researchers at MIT have published a new research paper claiming that nearly 1,200 people could face premature death due to pollution caused by diesel vehicles sold by Volkswagen in Europe by cheating during emissions tests. Volkswagen accepted that the company sold diesel vehicles with a software loaded on the vehicles to cheat emissions standards setup by government agencies. In the United States, Volkswagen has agreed to pay a massive fine for the settlement of charges against the company.
MIT researchers have earlier said that across the United States, Volkswagen diesel vehicles with lower standards for emissions could lead to 60 premature deaths. Nearly 11 million Volkswagen diesel vehicles sold worldwide during year 2008 and 2015 were not completely following emissions standards. The research team noted that Volkswagen diesel vehicles emitted nearly four times the prescribed limit for nitric oxides (NOx), leading to health issues for many people with compromised immune system or those with higher exposure to vehicle smoke.
Study co-author Steven Barrett, the Leonardo-Finmeccanica Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT said, "Air pollution is very much transboundary. Pollution doesn't care about political boundaries; it just goes straight past. Thus, a car in Germany can easily have significant impacts in neighboring countries, especially in densely populated areas such as the European continent."
The research paper by MIT research team has been published in Environmental Research Letters. The research team added that the biggest impact on environment would be seen in Germany, France, Poland and Czech Republic.
Volkswagen has announced recall for vehicles in the United States but the company has still escaped any serious charges in Europe. In Germany, the company sold 2.6 million diesel vehicles during the period under review.
MIT research paper further informed, "Europe's average population density is about three times higher than the U.S. average, and historical data has shown that diesel cars in Germany are driven on average 20 percent more, in terms of annual mileage, compared to the average American car that was considered in the U.S. study. In other words, there are more affected cars on the road, generating emissions that affect a higher concentration of people."
"It takes time for NOx to get converted into particulates, at which point, they could be 100 to 200 kilometers or further away from their source," Barrett informed.
Researchers added that 1,200 premature deaths will likely occur as a result of excess emissions that have already been released into the atmosphere between 2008 and 2015. Of these, 500 early deaths occur in Germany, followed by 160 in Poland, 84 in France, and 72 in the Czech Republic, with the remainder split among other European countries.
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