Diesel vehicles used to be the preferred choice of many car owners because they were cleaner and released lower levels of carbon dioxide than other car engines. However, this changed after the Dieselgate diesel emission scandal exposed cheat device software installed in millions of diesel vehicles worldwide.
Cheat devices, also known as defeat devices, is a software that suppresses NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions during testing but allows emissions to go over the legal limit when in real-world driving conditions. The device was first discovered in Volkswagen diesel vehicles, but other manufacturers have been implicated in the scandal over the years.
Today, NOx emissions in the UK reportedly total to 17,900 tonnes per year. This is equivalent to more or less an extra 1.4 million vehicles on the roads every year. According to research conducted this year, this number is above the European legal limits. A large chunk of these emissions are released by diesel vehicles that were manufactured from 2009 to 2014 under the Euro 5 and 6 regulations. Regular NOx emissions are typically at 9,500 tonnes per year.
High NOx emissions, along with the defeat devices, signify that UK roads and the environment in general have been exposed to dangerous pollutants for years. Additionally, owners of the affected vehicles have actually been spewing out pollutants every time they went out on the road instead of driving an environmentally friendly vehicle which many believed they had purchased. .
If car manufacturers continue to use manipulative cheat devices and manage to go unpunished when doing so, all the efforts of the authorities and other sectors of society to keep air pollution at safe levels will be for nothing.
Why nitrogen oxide emissions are dangerous
Nitrogen oxide is a chemical compound and irritant gas that combines nitrogen and oxygen. When fuel combustion happens, nitrogen is released and produces NO or nitric oxide when combined with oxygen atoms. Although nitric oxide is not dangerous, it can be when it merges with oxygen and forms NO2 or nitrogen dioxide. NO2 is hazardous to human health and the environment.
Together, NO and NO2 are known as nitrogen oxides or NOx. This is what vehicles emit when they are out on the road. NOx is specifically emitted by the vehicles’ engines.
Nitrogen oxides form acid rain, smog, ground level ozone, and PM or fine particles. These are all known to have negative effects on the health of anyone exposed to NOx gases.
Exposure to NOx can cause respiratory problems. If exposed for long periods, it can cause asthma. It can also affect the pulmonary system and can even cause and/or worsen bronchitis, pneumonitis, emphysema, and pulmonary edema. Long exposure may also lead to a blood disorder known as methemoglobinemia. NOx is also dangerous for individuals suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Aside from respiratory problems, continuous exposure to nitrogen oxides may also cause disease and health issues related or leading to diabetes, heart disease, and birth defects.
Children who are constantly exposed to nitrogen oxides are at risk of developing respiratory infections and may even suffer from permanent obstructive and restrictive lung disease.
Nitrogen oxides are also responsible for producing toxic products when they react with ozone and certain organic chemicals. Examples of these products include nitrosamines and nitroarenes. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic and nitroarenes are a combination of concentrated sulphuric acid and concentrated nitric acid.
Nitrogen oxides have also been known to increase ozone concentration, which means NOx concentrations can go over the safe level and contribute to the formation of net ozone. This can indirectly affect global warming problems.
After the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the European Union responded to the call for a reduction in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by promoting diesel engines as environmentally friendly. They use less fuel and a lot of air, which makes them lean-burn engines.
However, diesel vehicles are also known for their toxic emissions, the kind that is dangerous to humans like nitrogen oxides. To combat this problem, manufacturers initially used particulate filters, which were eventually found to increase nitrogen dioxide. Later on, manufacturers came up with their own technologies for keeping toxic emissions at safe levels. This paved the way for the creation of the defeat devices.
How to file a diesel emissions claim
With more and more manufacturers implicated in the emissions scandal, included Mercedes-Benz and millions of vehicles emitting dangerous NOx, car owners are scrambling to find ways to get back what they lost to the defeat devices. If you are one of these owners, the ideal thing to do is to get in touch with a team of emissions experts that can help you file the Dieselgate claim you need.. Your chances will be even greater if you get in touch with the experts at Emissions.co.uk. They have a panel of solicitors who are highly experienced and trained in the emissions industry.