A report, published by the European Data Journalism Network shows the 100 European sites which are subjected to the most dangerous levels of NOx, correlating these with the highest number of premature deaths in the region.
NOx is chiefly a by-product of the combustion of fossil fuels, reacting with surrounding air and sunlight. Diesel vehicle engines which operate at higher temperature, typically produce more NOx gas emissions than their petrol or hybrid combustion variants.
These emissions have been shown to produce photochemical smog, (a ground-level ozone) and acid rain when they come into contact with sunlight and water respectively. In addition to NOx gases, diesel emissions produce fine particle matter (such as PM 2.5) which can puncture organic tissue and circulatory systems and have been proven to cause inflammation of the eyes and airways as well as lung tissue damage.
The data used for the report was collected and published by two leading authorities International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) & Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MetNorway). Research for the study took 6,600 geographical regions from all European countries and was able to map deaths which could be attributed to NOx emissions which exceeded EU values.
The IIASA and MetNorway had this to say about their findings:
Based on this geographical distribution and on equations proven by independent experts, we managed to map deaths due to excess diesel emissions in all of the regional divisions. The goal is to show citizens the extent to which Diesel-gate has an impact in their own neighbourhood, bringing the issue closer to home than the halls of eurocracy where, unknown to them, national government representatives adopted flawed restrictions on diesel car pollution, incapable of safeguarding their health.
Borken-Kleefeldan expert in transport for the IIASA confirmed that “…while NOx is primarily released by diesel vehicles only, 75 % of the ambient fine particle pollutants (PM 2.5) come from other sources – even on busy roads.” While the surplus in PM 2.5 being produced that is attributable to diesel vehicle emissions represents little more than 1.5 % increase – it is worth noting, as Borken-Kleefeldan points out: “…that no safe dose [of PM 2.5 exists] and every additional quantity of pollution increases the health burden, according to current knowledge.”
The IIASA previously reported in 2015 (the same year that the Dieselgate scandal was first publicly revealed) that the number of premature deaths caused by excess NOx emissions came to 38,000 for the year. It also explained that from this total—the majority of these came from the EU, China and India.
The defeat-devices installed in VW diesel cars between 2008-2015 were implemented by the manufacturer to deliberately cheat laboratory tests by masking the actual harmful emissions that the diesel engine produced. These vehicles are thought to be responsible for a significant increase in the level of NOx gases released into the environment from this period up to the present day. VW Group, which includes Audi, Seat and Skoda has sold somewhere around 11.5 million of these defeat-device enabled diesel vehicles in Europe alone.
You can read the original story and see the data map here at: