Billions at Risk Due to Air Pollution, Report Finds

Updated on September 22, 2021

Air pollution is a serious issue that has affected – and continues to affect – billions of people around the world. It can even be deadlier than car crashes, smoking, and certain diseases. Fossil fuel burning and coal burning are two of the major contributors of air pollution; both are responsible for releasing nitrogen oxides (NOx). NOx is also the main culprit in automobiles that were affected by the Dieselgate emissions scandal.

The emissions scandal started with Volkswagen in 2015 but quickly snowballed in a matter of years. Now, almost every major car manufacturer in the UK and Europe is being investigated for allegedly installing defeat devices that cheat on emissions tests. 

These vehicles emit nitrogen oxides, which are dangerous reactive gases. They create acid rain and smog, as well as ground level ozone and PM or fine particles. All these have adverse effects on everyone’s  health and have a negative effect on the environment. So, just like fossil fuel burning and coal burning, high emission levels in vehicles are also a significant contributor to air pollution.

Air pollution crisis

The air pollution crisis is not only felt in the UK or Europe; it is a global issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in the most highly polluted places in the world, people lose a few years of their lives. In the northern part of India, for example, the level of pollution is at least 10 times higher than any other country. Residents’ lives are impacted and can be significantly cut. 

Other countries that are near the top  in the air pollution ladder are Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Singapore. This is indicated in the AQLI (Air Quality Life Index) that came out in a report published by the EPIC – Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. 

Despite its threat to the environment and on human health, not a lot of attention is given to air pollution. University of Chicago Professor Michael Greenstone said that part of the blame is on industry leaders and politicians, particularly in bigger countries where societal norms and their governments do not have strict measures that protect air quality. 

Other countries have their own programs to combat air pollution. A good example is China, which has reduced air pollution levels to 29% since 2013 after its government started seriously fighting against pollution. If this practice is sustained, it can very well add more than one year to each of its population’s lifespan. It’s a small development, but it’s still an improvement.

The problem, however, is still huge  because of the continued use of fossil fuels and coal fuel, and the disregard for the dangerous effects of nitrogen oxides. The diesel emission scandal is a good example for this one.

The diesel emissions scandal and its environmental impact

One of the issues highlighted in the diesel emissions scandal is the fact that manufacturers lied to their customers about the environmental safety of their vehicles. Legal matters such as lawsuits, claims, and fines also hog the limelight. What is often not extensively discussed is its impact on the environment. This is where air pollution comes in.

As mentioned earlier, vehicles involved in the emissions scandal emit nitrogen oxides that release acid rain and smog, two of the primary symptoms of air pollution. Consumers who bought diesel cars from Volkswagen, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz feel like they were cheated because they thought they were driving vehicles that helped protect the environment. In reality, their cars emit NOx levels that are significantly above the standard regulations. This is a clear violation of the Clean Air Act, which was created to lessen air pollution. 

While the manufacturers involved in the emissions scandal have paid fines and figured in lawsuits over the years, not much has been reported about what they have done to correct the environmental harm that the defeat devices have caused. German car manufacturer Volkswagen, the first company found to have used the cheating software, has paid thousands of car owners for their compensation claims. In terms of helping the environment, however, it’s a different story.

Although the carmaker has spent billions in funding the campaign for zero emissions cars and correcting the harm their defeat devices have done, this was all in the United States. There hasn’t been a similar action in the UK. This is important because the scandal has impacted the UK and the rest of Europe more than the US. In Wales and England alone, around 1.2 million vehicles were affected, while Germany has approximately 2.5 million emissions scandal cases. Can you imagine how much NOx has been released into the air?

What you should do

If you think your car has been fitted with a defeat device, you have to stand up for your rights as a consumer and file an emissions claim. This is the best way for you to help the fight against air pollution. Find a good solicitor or a team of emissions experts and ask them to help you process your claim. Better yet, hire an experienced team such as the experts at, so you’re guaranteed you’re moving in the right direction. Their team is currently taking on Mercedes Diesel Emissions Claims, and you can register your interest in a matter of minutes.

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