Volkswagen’s emissions scandal could cause 60 premature deaths in the United States, it has been revealed by a study published on Thursday, October 29, in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
The peer-reviewed research was led by experts at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The car-maker is accused of having installed “defeat devices” in 500,000 of its diesel vehicles, which resulted in misleading readings during emissions tests.
More precisely, the software caused automobiles to release lower quantities of nitrogen oxide just when they were being reviewed during mandatory federal inspections.
These deceitful actions were revealed at the beginning of September, by representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and it was announced that fines would be imposed to supersede the estimated damages.
It is estimated that in fact Volkswagen’s cars released quantities of toxic nitrogen oxide which are 40 times higher than the the accepted limit, specified in the Clean Air Act.
This additional pollution will lead to approximately 60 premature deaths, associated predominantly with lung cancer and other cardiopulmonary disorders, researchers predict.
Moreover, 130 other people might die if the problem isn’t tackled immediately by company officials, and resolved by the end of 2016.
These calculations are much gloomier than those formulated by the New York Times, which predicted 40 deaths following this transgression, and also by the Associated Press, whose estimations were at around 5 to 20 fatalities.
This is because excessive emissions of this kind are an important risk factor, especially in urban areas, capable of speeding up death by more than 10 years.
In addition, Volkswagen’s decision to rig its diesel cars will also have a measurable negative impact on the health sector as well.
More precisely, it is bound to result in “approximately 31 cases of chronic bronchitis, 34 hospital admissions, 120,000 minor restricted activity days, 21,000 lower respiratory symptom days, and 33,000 days of increased bronchodilator usage”, according to Steven Barrett, professor of aeorospace and energy at MIT.
Company officials have responded to these accusations, claiming that there have been no confirmed reports regarding health issues triggered by nitrogen oxide emissions, and such allegations are therefore unfairly antagonistic.
According to projections, the economic burden caused by this cheating scandal will amount to around $450 million, and this strain could be elevated to $910 million, if the rigged vehicles aren’t recalled.
So far, the fraudulent measures have led to operating losses of around $ 3.84 billion (3.5 billion euros) in the third quarter, and it’s the first time in 15 years that the German car manufacturer has experienced a decline in income.
Overall, the write-down caused by the rigging scandal amounted to approximately $7.37 billion (6.7 billion euros), which was actually smaller than anticipated, if we take into account that around 11 million cars could be included in the recall.
Meanwhile, Dr. Herbert Diess, the newly appointed chief executive officer of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand has issued an apology following the outrageous scam.
As he explained at the Tokyo Auto Show, the company is now striving to regain customer confidence and make amends for the irreparable damage it has caused.
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