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MIT Predicts 1,200 Premature Deaths In Europe Due To Excess Emissions From German Cars

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Some 1,200 people in Europe are likely to die earlier than expected due to excess emissions from Volkswagen cars sold between 2008 and 2015.

Sixty percent of these premature deaths will occur outside Germany, the home of Volkswagen vehicles, which underscores the fact that air pollution knows no boundaries.

A group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology arrived at these staggering statistics after they had examined the impact on public health of the excess emissions of the 2.6 million affected cars carrying the Volkswagen Group's brands VW, Audi, Skoda, and Seat sold in Germany.

The study, in a report published in Environmental Research Papers on March 3, identified the countries outside the borders of Germany that are potentially affected by the excess emissions from cars fitted with the "defeat devices." These countries include Poland, France, and the Czech Republic.

Dieselgate Scandal

The German Volkswagen Group admitted in September 2015 that its 11 million cars sold worldwide from 2008 to 2015 were fitted with "defeat devices" — a software that could cheat laboratory tests to make cars appear compliant with environmental standards. The admission, which was later known as the "dieselgate" scandal, came after the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that VW vehicles sold in the U.S. were installed with "defeat devices."

The German carmaker had recalled all the affected cars sold in the U.S. and Europe but by then the excess emissions had already compromised public health.

Pollution Knows No Boundaries

Five hundred of the predicted 1,200 premature deaths in Europe — or 40 percent — will be in Germany.

"(Pollution) doesn't care about political boundaries; it just goes straight past," study co-author Steven Barret, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, said.

It goes without saying that the air pollution caused by a car in Germany will have its effects felt in neighboring countries.

The study also warned of an additional 2,600 early deaths in Europe if the German carmaker fails to recall the affected cars and make them compliant with the European limit value by the end of the year. It added that the recall would also enable the company to save $4 billion.

"We don’t know if other manufacturers have these defeat devices," Barret added, "But there is already evidence that many other vehicles in practice emit more than the applicable test-stand limit value. So we're trying to do this for all diesel vehicles."

Top Of The Pack Amid Scandal

The Volkswagen Group posted a total revenue of $23.8 billion with a net profit exceeding $5 billion. The German carmaker was able to secure its most-coveted place in the industry despite the scandal.

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