In 2019, over nine million deaths across the world were caused by pollution. This figure has remained the same since 2015. The Lancet Planetary Health published a study in May this year that proved how pollution has become a global problem and a threat to the environment and human health.
According to the study, the most affected population are those living in low and middle-income countries, as well as those in countries without exacting programs addressing poor air quality and water and chemical pollution.
The report gave a clear picture of what must be done to prevent pollution from claiming more lives and further destroying the environment. Tackling one issue with targeted action can help reduce or eliminate the other crises.
One of the suggested actions is the shift from fossil fuels – or petrol and diesel-powered vehicles – to renewable energy. This can help improve air quality and postpone climate change. Currently, indoor and outdoor air pollution is linked to over 6.6 million premature deaths every year around the world – and the numbers continue to rise. Air pollution is responsible for almost 75% of these deaths worldwide.
The report also stressed the need for worldwide action if countries are to meet their goal of minimising the impacts of air pollution on human health, the environment, and economic and social factors.
While the public’s concern about toxic air and its health impacts is increasing, the same cannot be said of the needed funding and attention on international air pollution levels. Local governments have produced campaigns and zero-emission goals, but not all countries are involved. There is still a lot of work to be done.
Air pollution has adverse impacts on human health and general well-being. Studies – both old and current – have consistently shown how toxic air aggravates health issues such as cognitive intelligence, mental health-related problems, respiratory illnesses, and cardiovascular diseases.
Global Alliance on Health and Pollution’s Richard Fuller said it is important for countries to help each other because pollution crosses international borders. Countries with significantly high toxic air levels need to address the issue by finding the source and stopping it.
Why diesel emissions are dangerous
The UK is one of the highly advanced countries with cities and towns affected by high levels of toxic air emissions. The primary source for these pollutants is road transport, specifically diesel emissions. This is why the 2015 Dieselgate scandal and the carmakers involved in it continue to attract the attention of authorities and campaigners.
In September 2015, the Volkswagen Group received a Notice of Violation from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board. It detailed how the carmaker violated emissions regulations when they installed defeat devices used to cheat emissions in Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles that were sold in the American market. The VW Group had to recall hundreds of thousands of affected vehicles – and they continue to do so even now.
Other carmakers followed in the footsteps of the VW Group. Mercedes-Benz, Vauxhall, and BMW are only three of the many manufacturers that authorities in the US, Europe, and the UK have identified as companies that sold diesel vehicles equipped with defeat devices.
A defeat device is highly illegal and dangerous because it can detect when a vehicle is brought into a lab for testing. Once testing commences, the device automatically reduces emissions levels to within the World Health Organization’s (WHO) mandated limits. As such, the vehicle appears eco-friendly during testing conditions. However, once it is out on real roads, the vehicle reverts to releasing exceedingly high volumes of nitrogen oxide or NOx, a group of gases that can destroy lives and damage the environment.
NOx contains nitric acid or NO and nitrogen dioxide or NO2. It is responsible for producing smog and acid rain. It reacts with other elements to form the pollutant ground-level ozone, which weakens and damages vegetation.
As mentioned earlier, pollution affects a person’s mental health and cognitive intelligence. Once exposed to NOx emissions, a person’s mental health issues are triggered, and this can lead to more frequent episodes of depression and anxiety.
Additionally, a weakened cognitive intelligence can increase a person’s risk of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease.
Breathing in nitrogen oxide emissions can cause life-threatening health impacts, including breathing difficulties and lung problems, emphysema, asphyxiation, and laryngospasm (spasm of the vocal cords). As already mentioned, toxic emissions can lead to certain cancers, heart problems, respiratory illnesses, and premature death.
The Volkswagen Group, Mercedes, BMW, Vauxhall, and all the other carmakers that deceived customers with their use of defeat devices are responsible for exposing hundreds of thousands (or maybe even millions) of unknowing drivers to NOx emissions and their life-changing impacts. They should be brought to court through an emissions claim and affected car owners should be compensated for the inconvenience and dangers they were exposed to.
Should I start my diesel claim?
If you think your vehicle is equipped with a defeat device, you should work with emissions experts and start a diesel claim against your carmaker. First off, however, you need to visit the ClaimExperts.co.uk website to get all the information you need to verify your eligibility to make a claim. Only then will you be able to proceed to the actual claims process.