Dieselgate Emissions Will Cause 1,200 Premature Deaths

An MIT study reports that Europeans will suffer the most. 

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Answering a question that's been in the back of our minds since news of Dieselgate broke, an MIT study reports that 1,200 Europeans will die prematurely as a result of excess emissions generated by VAG Dieselgate-afflicted cars sold in Germany between 2008 and 2015. More than 11 million cars were sold globally with the cheat device, but the majority of the premature deaths will be localized to Germany, France, Poland, and the Czech Republic. 

Steven Barrett, co-author of the study and Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, said "[Pollution] doesn’t care about political boundaries; it just goes straight past. Thus, a car in Germany can easily have significant impacts in neighboring countries, especially in densely populated areas such as the European continent." 

And Germany seems to be the nexus of the widespread pollution and its subsequent health risks—at least compared to the U.S, which will apparently only experience 60 premature deaths—for several reasons. For one, only 482,000 affected cars were sold stateside, which pales in comparison to the 2.6 million that were sold in Germany. Furthermore, Germany's population density is three times higher than the U.S., so more people will ostensibly be affected by the pollution. And lastly, Germans reportedly drive their diesels 20 percent more than their American counterparts, according to the study

The extra nitrogen particles the Dieselgate cars emit—which are apparently 40 times higher than the legally allowable limit in the U.S.—inflame lungs, cause asthma, and are linked to an increased risk of cancer, strokes, and heart attacks. And the folks who will end up dying as a result will have a decade taken off their lives, MIT claims. It gets worse, too: MIT researchers claim that unless the afflicted cars in Germany get retrofitted to comply with pollution limits, an additional 2,600 people will die from future emissions. 

MIT also darkly mentions that that the study only observed the effect of emissions of Dieselgate cars sold in Germany—not the emissions from the total eight million afflicted cars across Europe. The death toll, of course, in that study would be "significantly higher."