How Has Air Quality Been Affected by the Diesel Emissions Scandal?

Ensuring good air quality is important because the air you breathe is essential to your health. 

Over the years, the problem of air pollution has been increasing, especially after the Dieselgate scandal in 2015. Diesel used to be seen as the clean and safe alternative for vehicles, but after some popular car brands were caught allegedly using defeat devices for their diesel vehicles, the whole story changed.

Diesel emissions are some of the most dangerous pollutants in the world. What diesel vehicles emit are known as nitrogen oxides (NOx), gases that have nitric oxide or NO and nitrogen dioxide or NO2 as major components. They form acid rain and smog when they react with other compounds. 

NOx is also responsible for the formation of ground-level ozone, which can stunt plant and crop growth. Nitrogen oxide can also make plants and crops susceptible to frost and damage. 

What makes diesel emissions more dangerous are their impacts on human health. This is the main reason why the diesel emissions scandal is considered a major issue in the global automotive industry.

What is the diesel emissions scandal about?

In September 2015, US authorities, specifically the California Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), called on Volkswagen after they discovered defeat devices in the German carmaker’s vehicles. VW initially denied the allegations but later on admitted that they knew about the installed cheat devices.

About a year after the VW diesel emissions scandal, car owners in the US started a class-action lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz for alleged use of defeat devices. Soon after, other carmakers started getting involved in the scandal. 

A defeat device is programmed to detect when a vehicle is in the lab for emissions testing. When it does, it automatically and artificially brings down the emissions levels to within the limits set by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, when the vehicle is taken out of the lab and driven in real-world road conditions, the emissions levels go up multiple times, often in excess of the limits regulated by the WHO and EU. 

So, in reality, the vehicle is dirty and unsafe. Any vehicle equipped with a defeat device is a pollutant.

What do diesel vehicles emit?

Diesel vehicles emit nitrogen oxide or NOx, a group of gases that can be devastating for the environment and human health. Its main components are nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Nitrogen oxide reacts with several compounds to form acid rain and smog. It can also form ground-level, which can negatively impact vegetation, making plants and crops susceptible to frost and damage. As mentioned before, NOx can also retard plant and crop growth.

Recent studies have also come out revealing that exposure to nitrogen oxide can trigger mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. 

Anyone exposed to nitrogen oxide can suffer significant health impacts. Someone who regularly inhales low levels of nitrogen oxide can suffer from headaches, asthma or aggravated asthma (if they already have the condition), nausea and vomiting, and breathing difficulties. NOx exposure can also cause emphysema and bronchitis.

If a person inhales high levels of nitrogen oxides regularly, they can develop serious health impacts that include chronic reduction of lung function. Affected individuals can also become more susceptible to cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. Other health impacts include laryngospasm and asphyxiation. 

Research and reports also provide evidence that prolonged exposure to air pollution is one of the reasons for repeat hospitalisations, GP visits and emergency room visits. It is also one of the leading causes of premature deaths in the UK, Europe, and other parts of the world.

Ella Kissi-Debra, a nine-year-old girl who lived with her mother near the South Circular Road in south-east London, died in 2013 after several months of hospital and emergency room visits.  Ella died after a severe asthma attack. An inquest on her death was ordered and in December 2020, the coroner came out with the ruling that Ella died due to air pollution. Hers was the first case of its kind in the UK.

Why you need to file an emissions claim

Car owners affected by the diesel emissions scandal need to file an emissions claim so their carmakers can compensate them for the stress and inconvenience the defeat devices caused them. Other reasons include:

  • Their car manufacturers deceived them by lying about the cleanliness and safety of the vehicles.
  • Their car manufacturers made them pay a premium price for a pollutant vehicle.
  • Their car manufacturers helped increase toxic air through the excess vehicle emissions. 

How should I file my diesel claim?

The emission claim process becomes easier when you work with a panel of emissions solicitors. They know every step of the claims procedure, so you won’t have to keep guessing what to do next. They also offer a no-win-no-fee guarantee, so you won’t have to worry about your expenses. 

Start your claims process by getting in touch with as they can help determine if you are eligible to receive compensation.

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