by Steve Dearborn
The US environmental Agency (EPA) recently stated that Volkswagen, the German car manufacturers, cheated on their emissions test by installing devices on their diesel engines that changed the performance so as to improve results. They also stated that the cars were actually producing emissions that were several times higher than what was legal. This device was termed the ‘defeat’ device and was installed in over 11 million cars sold worldwide.
A byproduct of cheating on their tests was the release of harmful emissions. These gases cause both environmental and health problems and are known as NOx. Made up of Nitric Oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), these gases are unsafe in the levels being produced by Volkswagen vehicles. NO2 has been linked to several health problems. A high concentration of nitrogen dioxide is dangerous because it can lead to inflammation of the airways. For children or people with lung diseases such as asthma, this could be fatal. These emission affect our environment as well. They contribute to the already severe problem of environmental pollution. Unclean air is also causing health problems for children and those already susceptible to respiratory diseases. In essence, the effect can be likened to asbestos poisoning.
The Asbestos Factor
Asbestos poisoning is also one which affects the lunch and can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma. When people are exposed to asbestos, they are also exposed to various health risks. Asbestos particles are inhaled into the lungs where they could cause fibrotic lung disease or change the linking in the chest cavity. Just like asbestos, NOx are toxic emissions that could affect the lungs and lead to lung diseases.
It is therefore not surprising that the Volkswagen scandal raised so much outrage. The investigations which began in the US have spread to other countries, and are particularly centered in Europe. The motor manufacturers are already set to recall about 8.5 million vehicles and this has had a major impact on their finances. But this is about much more than just finances.
NOx emissions carry with them the possibility of air borne diseases that could be fatal to those who are affected. While the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other relevant bodies across the world are doing their best to bring down the level of pollution unleashed on the environment, allowing manufacturers to get away with a deception of this level is unacceptable, even for a corporate giant like Volkswagen.
Just as many products containing asbestos, including navy vessels that caused mesothelioma, have been banned in many countries, stringent measures should also be carried out against this auto manufacturing company. A more rigorous process in testing vehicles needs to be implemented. Volkswagen has broken their social responsibility to keep their customer’s safe. We will have to wait and see if they are able to regain it once again, or if consumers will look to safer and more trust-worthy options when shopping for a vehicle.
What are your thoughts on this issue?