In September 2015, the motor industry was rocked by claims that Volkswagen had rigged thousands of diesel cars so they could pass environmental tests – despite pumping out dangerous levels of toxins.
Since news of the scandal broke, anomalies have now shown up in around 11 million cars worldwide, but it’s in Britain that the biggest cause for concern lies. If the faulty cars are not recalled quickly, hundreds of Britons could die as a result of the excess emissions.
Academics have released data to show just how dangerous the emissions released by faulty Volkswagen vehicles are to public health. A study by MIT and Harvard University has shown that more than 60 Britons could lose their lives up to 20 years prematurely as a result of exposure, and this number could soar to well over 200 if Volkswagen does not demand a quick recall.
As well as the risk of premature deaths, researchers say the excess emissions (also caused by vehicles manufactured by Porsche and Audi) will lead to more than 31 cases of chronic bronchitis, and 34 hospital admissions for cardiac and respiratory conditions.
This will directly result in 120,000 cases of work absences, and affected individuals will endure 210,000 days spent struggling with respiratory symptoms. The health and social repercussions of this could cost British taxpayers nearly £300 million.
Emissions 40 Times Above The Limit
Of the 11 million cars worldwide that had the defeat software installed, 10% of them were sold in Britain. Therefore, there’s more than 1 million cars on our roads emitting pollution levels 40 times above the legal limit. Due to the higher population density in the UK, experts warn the true health impact of these emissions could be much worse than the research suggests.
Steven Barrett, the lead author of the research paper said:
“If nothing’s done, these excess emissions will cause around another 140 deaths.
“However, two-thirds of the total deaths could be avoided if the recalls could be done quickly, in the course of the next year.”
Volkswagen is now facing billions in fines and the ‘Made in Germany’ label could well be permanently tarnished. However, recalls for affected vehicles are not expected to start in Britain until January 2016.