Has Air Quality Been Permanently Affected By Dieselgate?

The Dieselgate scandal dates back to 2015 but its repercussions are still felt up to this day. Carmakers have been spending billions paying off affected drivers. Car owners continue to work with law firms in bringing a diesel emissions claim against the manufacturers. Air pollution is still a major problem.

According to a 2017 study by Environmental Health Analytics, excessive levels of nitrogen oxide or NOx emissions account for a significant number of excess deaths – 38,000 to be exact – around the world. Most of the incidents happened in Europe, where controlling NOx emissions receive very limited attention compared to CO2 or carbon dioxide.

NOx emissions come from road transport – or vehicles, particularly those with diesel engines. These emissions are the main reason why hospital visits and GP consultations in the UK continue to increase. Children are getting sick, especially those who are exposed to high levels of NOx emissions.

Despite government programs and initiatives, such as London’s ULEZ or UItra-Low Emissions Zones and the UK’s Clean Air Zones (CAZ), a lot of action is still needed in the fight against air pollution. Banning new petrol and diesel cars and working towards a zero-emissions goal are long-term goals, so what’s needed is a day-to-day activity that can help bring down toxic air levels.

What Happened in 2015?

September 2015 significantly changed the course of things in the global automotive industry. This was when US authorities, specifically the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, discovered that the Volkswagen Group’s Audi and VW diesel vehicles had illegal defeat devices in them. This, in effect, misled US consumers to buy cars and vans equipped with software intended to manipulate emissions testing.

The defeat device knows when the vehicle is in the lab for a regulatory test. While the test is ongoing, the device lowers emissions artificially to keep them within the legal limits that the World Health Organization (WHO) mandated.

When the vehicle is brought out and driven on real roads, however, it emits massive volumes of NOx. Often, the numbers are at least 400 times over WHO and EU limits. So, the device hides real emissions and gets carmakers to believe that their vehicles are top-quality, high-performance, and emissions-compliant.

Volkswagen had to pay – and continues to do so – fines, settlement fees, legal costs, and hundreds of thousands of vehicle recalls.

Over the years, other carmakers have been implicated in the diesel emissions scandal, and cases have been recorded in various parts of the world. In a short period, Dieselgate became a global dilemma. It is considered one of the most controversial incidents to involve the automotive industry.

What Are the Repercussions?

Nitrogen oxide is a dangerous gas that has nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), two gases that can cause numerous environmental and health impacts. When NOx reacts with these gases and spreads throughout the atmosphere, it produces a pollutant called ground-level ozone, which can destroy vegetation.

Nitrogen oxide is also responsible for the formation of smog and acid rain, two elements that make polluted air dangerous. It can cause asthma and other respiratory problems.

NOx emissions also impact mental health and cognitive development. If you are exposed to NOx emissions, you may experience more frequent episodes of anxiety and depression. If your cognitive abilities are affected, dementia (especially Alzheimer’s disease) will be a big possibility for you.

Your health is also negatively affected if you are exposed to nitrogen oxide. Some impacts are mild but there are several that can be devastating and life-changing.

Low-level exposure to NOx emissions can be a trigger for asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and breathing difficulties. Lung problems can also develop, the most common one being the presence of fluid in the lungs.

If your exposure is constant and involves massive amounts, the health impacts include asphyxiation (which can be life-threatening), chronic reduction of lung function, laryngospasm (also known as vocal cords spasm), and cardiovascular diseases.

Reports of early deaths linked to air pollution have been quite steady over the past few years. The case of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a South Circular Road, south London resident who died in 2013 is the first reported incident that lists air pollution as the primary cause of death. There are thousands upon thousands of similar cases around the world.

So, Has Air Quality Been Permanently Affected Since Dieselgate?

The Dieselgate scandal certainly did not help improve air quality. As mentioned earlier, air pollution is still very much a problem everywhere in the world. Whether the effect is permanent or not should not be the focus; attention should be given to ongoing actions and programs intended to improve air quality.

London’s ULEZ and the UK’s CAZ, the ban on new petrol and diesel cars, and individual actions from governments around the world should not be taken for granted. Furthermore, stricter policies should be created and implemented.

For those affected by the diesel emissions scandal, the best way to help the fight against air pollution is to hold the carmakers responsible for their actions.

You should bring forward a diesel claim against your carmaker for all the environmental and health-related inconveniences their deceitful actions have caused you.

Before starting your claims process, however, visit ClaimExperts.co.uk and get all the information you need to verify your eligibility to bring forward an emissions claim.