Rigged diesel engines being blamed for 5,000 premature deaths per year in Europe
A new study has found that diesel emissions are associated with approximately 38,000 deaths annually around the world.
Of these reported deaths, researchers believe that over 10,000 deaths occur in Europe each year caused by pollution from light duty diesel vehicles and of that number about a half or 5,000 of those deaths could have been avoided if nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from diesel vehicles were eliminated.
NOx gases has been proven to contribute to acid rain and suffocating smog which in turn leads to a significant number of needless deaths each year globally.
Emissions from diesel cars rigged to appear eco-friendly may be responsible for 5,000 air pollution deaths per year in Europe alone.
Back in May this year, another journal called Nature conducted a study and found ‘excess’ emissions from diesel vehicles exceeding certification limits were associated with about 38,000 ‘premature’ deaths globally in 2015 alone.
The latest study which has been published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, focuses on the perils for Europe. Researchers from Norway, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands calculated that about 10,000 deaths occur in Europe every year due to small particle pollution from light duty diesel vehicles (LDDVs).
Almost half of these deaths would have been avoided if emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from diesel cars on the road had matched levels measured in the lab.
Volkswagen admitted installing illegal software devices in cars that reduced emissions only for the duration of tests. The authors of the report have said that if diesel cars emitted as little NOx as petrol ones, almost 4,000 of the 5,000 premature deaths would have been avoided.
The countries with the level of diesel cars are the high population countries such as Italy, Germany, and France high share of diesel cars in their national fleets.’
For decades, diesel was considered less polluting and diesel car sales rose hugely in Europe since the 1990s to such an extent that diesel cars now comprise about half the European fleet.
There are now more than 100 million diesel cars in Europe, which is twice as many as in the rest of the world together, said the study authors.
Diesel engines emit less carbon dioxide than petrol ones but significantly emit more toxic NOx which is composed of nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. NOx gases contribute to acid rain and suffocating smog.
Long-term exposure to these toxic fumes can cause breathing problems, eye irritation, loss of appetite, corroded teeth, headaches, and chronically reduced lung function. Excessive premature deaths will continue into the future until LDDVs with high on-road NOx emissions have been replaced,’ said the study authors.
In response to the apparent dangers of diesel emissions, tougher emissions tests came into force in Europe earlier this month.
The studies show that diesel pollution triggers heart attacks and strokes by entering the bloodstream and inflaming damaged blood vessels. Nanoparticles which are many times smaller than the width of a human hair. These tiny nanoparticles have long been associated with heart disease, but how inhaled particles affect blood vessels has remained a mystery up until now.
Scientists have long suspected that fine particles travel from the lungs into the bloodstream, but evidence has been difficult to collect but they have now discovered the evidence and the link that the nanoparticles can travel from the lungs into the bloodstream and accumulate in parts of the heart or in blood vessels already suffering from inflammation which they may aggravate further. By inflaming blood vessels and veins, the particles can contribute to fatal blockages.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in Holland tracked inhaled gold nanoparticles, which do not cause health problems to volunteers.
In a study conducted and funded by the British Heart Foundation-funded and published in the journal ACS Nano, has found that 14 healthy volunteers and 12 surgical patients inhaled gold nanoparticles.
Within just 24 hours, the nanoparticles were detected in blood and urine. The particles were still detectable three months later.
In a further study, stroke patients with blockages in their carotid arteries – the major artery in the neck – about to undergo surgery were asked to breathe in a quantity of the nanoparticles.
When the fatty ‘plaques’ blocking the artery were removed, they were found to have accumulated large numbers of nanoparticles – highlighting how they end up in diseased areas.
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