Car firms have "blood on their hands" over car fumes

Britain's former chief scientist, Sir David King, has accused German car-makers of causing thousands of Britons' deaths after rigging diesel exhaust tests so that their cars could appear to be less polluting. 

These companies have blood on their hands - I say that without any doubt
— Sir David King

When the public consultations were held on the previous third runway proposals (2002-2010), residents were guaranteed at the exhibitions that air would be clean by 2015 (when that runway was due to be in operation) because all vehicles would have to meet tough European standards. A display showed the list of EU regulations with dates for compliance. "Experts" at the consultation events would not discuss any possibility that pollution limits around Heathrow would not be met because ALL vehicles would have to meet these standards by law. The devious tricks employed by German car makers to fool the public came as no surprise to environmental campaigners who tried to challenge grossly optimistic emissions predications last time round. 

We are now hearing about the experiments on monkeys and humans that were undertaken on behalf of the German manufacturers Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler in an attempt to produce evidence to support green sales promotions . Sir David King, who was the government's chief scientist until 2007, has now said that these companies have 'blood on their hands' over these experiments and has claimed that their decision to manipulate data on exhaust emissions had caused the deaths of large numbers of people in the UK.

In 2015 Volkswagen admitted to fitting devices to 11 million cars worldwide that made their engines appear less polluting. 

 Sir David King 

Sir David King 

The number of early fatalities in Britain is really very very large due to NOx (nitrogen oxide) air, with Governments across Europe encouraging diesel on the basis that the catalyst traps worked.
— Sir David King to The Daily Telegraph


It emerged that a research group funded by VW, Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler and BMW had ordered a study in Germany measuring the effects of inhaling nitrogen dioxide on 25 human volunteers. 

German news source, Spiegel Online, said on 29th January that CEO Matthias Mueller labelled the animal testing 'wrong ... unethical and repulsive'. 

Thomas Steg, Chief lobbyist for Volkswagen, has been suspended after accepting full responsibility for the company's involvement after it was shown that he knew about tests carried out in 2014 that involved ten java monkeys. The animals were locked in cages and forced to breathe in diesel exhaust fumes from a VW Beetle for two hours. 

In German tabloid newspaper Bild, Steg commented on tests on 25 humans conducted in an institute in Aachen in 2013 and 2014. He stressed that the volunteers had been exposed to 'much lower levels than those found in many workplaces' and that no-one suffered any harm.

Greenpeace slammed 'a fraudulent auto industry and an idle German government' behind the scandal and called Steg a 'scapegoat'. The organisation said nitrogen dioxide emitted by diesel vehicles led to 10,000 premature deaths in Germany each year.

The EU Commission has summoned Germany and eight other EU countries to explain how they plan to lower toxic emissions to meet the bloc's air quality standards if they want to avoid action before the European Court of Justice.

The research body that commissioned the tests, the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT), was financed by the trio of German car companies and dissolved in 2017.  

Berlin's Tageszeitung daily said that 'while these experiments are doubtless scandalous, the bigger scandal is the experiment the car industry has been conducting on the wider population for decades'.

'While the monkeys and human volunteers only had to inhale exhaust fumes for a few hours, people with the misfortune to walk along arterial roads have been breathing in levels of nitrogen oxide far higher than EU limits for years.' 

British politicians, like the public, were fooled by VW's claims about diesel cars. On BBC's This Week on 1st February, Michael Portillo said that his moment of the week was the latest VW revelations and the comments of Sir David King, who he had worked with when King was a government advisor.

 Michael Portillo on BBC's This Week programme

Michael Portillo on BBC's This Week programme

Portillo had believed that the VW cheating on the pollution tests "was really just a matter of stealing a march on the market".  However, he had changed his mind after hearing King's comment that, because he was duped by this research back in 2004, he recommended to the government that they give an advantage to diesel engines over petrol engines and that led to many more diesel cars sold than petrol. Portillo explained that as a result, King is now saying: "hundreds of people have died because these companies have committed this fraud". "It hadn't occurred to me before" said Portillo. 

Lucky you Michael. Those of us who are concerned about pollution, and have to live with it, are well aware of the premature deaths it causes. 

If you really care about the deadly consequences of high levels of air pollution, make a stand against proposals for a third runway at Heathrow. 

 


 

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