Recent studies have revealed the harmful effects of air pollution on human health, specifically its devastating impact on life expectancy. According to new findings, exposure to high levels of air pollution can cut people’s lives short by over two years, more than smoking or alcohol consumption.
A report by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) detailed the relationship between air pollution and human health. It focused on the minute particulate matter (PM2.5) found in air pollution, which has been shown to cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers PM2.5 a significant contributor to millions of premature deaths worldwide.
The research involved air quality data analysis from multiple countries across the globe, drawing on information from air-quality sensors and population and health records. The studies found that consistently high exposure to PM2.5 can take as much as two and a half years off a person’s life expectancy. Air pollution ranks as a higher risk factor for early death than alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and poor diet.
WHO estimates that nearly nine out of 10 people in the world now breathe air that surpasses its guideline limits for PM2.5, contributing to more deaths from arterial disease, strokes, and lung cancer, among others. Although improving air quality requires global efforts, individual efforts like reducing fossil fuel usage and limiting exposure to second-hand smoke can make a significant difference.
How diesel emissions contribute to poor air quality
The importance of clean air cannot be overstated, not only for the environment but also for the health of individuals. However, many cities worldwide continue to struggle with poor air quality. While several factors contribute to this issue, one major contributor is diesel emissions.
Due to their efficiency and affordability, diesel engines are widely used in various sectors, such as transportation, shipping, and construction. However, diesel-powered vehicles and machinery emit harmful pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), and sulphur dioxide (SO2). These pollutants greatly threaten human health, contributing to respiratory diseases, heart diseases, and premature deaths.
NOx is a group of gases of nitrogen and oxygen molecules produced when diesel fuel is burned at high temperatures. In addition to their negative impact on human health, NOx forms ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. Ground-level ozone is a harmful pollutant that can cause respiratory issues, while fine particulate matter can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause various health problems.
PM is a complex mixture of particles suspended in the air, including soot, dust, and liquid droplets. Exposure to PM has been linked to various health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. In urban areas, diesel-powered vehicles are a significant source of PM emissions.
SO2 is a colourless gas that, when inhaled, can cause respiratory problems such as bronchoconstriction and asthma. Diesel fuels naturally contain sulphur, and when burned, they form SO2. Upgrading diesel fuels to contain lower sulphur content can reduce SO2 emissions.
In September 2015, Volkswagen (VW) was hit with one of the biggest scandals. The German automaker was found to have installed a “defeat device” in their diesel engines that allowed their cars to cheat on emissions tests. The scandal, dubbed the “Dieselgate” emissions scandal, rocked the automotive industry and the wider public.
The scandal quickly gained international attention, and VW’s stock price plummeted. The company soon admitted to installing the defeat devices, and several high-ranking executives resigned. In the following months, VW was hit with demands for Dieselgate compensation from governments and individual consumers.
Years later, the Dieselgate scandal continues to be a cautionary tale for automakers. Recent emission claims were filed against big-name automakers like Mercedes-Benz, Vauxhall, and Renault. Renault emissions claims were levelled against the carmaker beginning in 2017.
The fallout will be felt for years to come as companies work to rebuild consumer trust and meet increasingly stringent emissions standards. The Dieselgate scandal is a stark reminder that cheating on emissions tests has severe consequences for companies and the environment.
Examining solutions to reduce air pollution and improve health outcomes
Switching to clean energy sources such as wind and solar power can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a major cause of air pollution. These renewable energy sources are becoming more accessible and cost-effective than ever before. Governments and individuals can both play a role in promoting the use of clean energy and reducing dependence on non-renewable sources.
Strong regulations limiting emissions and harmful substances must be implemented, enforced, and regularly reviewed. This includes controls on industrial, vehicle, and power plant emissions. Governments and regulatory bodies must ensure that companies adhere to these regulations, and heavy fines should be given to defaulters.
Poorly designed urban spaces with overcrowded roads and buildings are some of the biggest contributors to air pollution. Urban planners can help reduce air pollution by developing cities with more green spaces, reducing urban sprawl, promoting green buildings, and adopting sustainable transportation policies.
Is it imperative that I file my diesel claim?
Filing a diesel claim can seem daunting, especially if you are unfamiliar with the process. However, it is important to understand that you have rights as a consumer, and there are steps you can take to seek compensation for damages caused by diesel fuel. Emissions.co.uk provides a detailed guide to get you started. Visit their site here – https://www.emissions.co.uk/manufacturers/renault/