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Car Exhausts Failing to Filter Most Dangerous Particles, Experts Suggest

Beginning in 2011, new vehicles were required to have exhaust filters. Two years later, authorities started requiring the same filters in heavy-duty vehicles. Fitted in exhaust systems to help remove or reduce particulate matter, the DPF (diesel particulate filters) have become controversial after new research revealed that they were not as efficient as some authorities claimed them to be.

Experiments conducted by a team led by the University of Birmingham’s Professor Roy Harrison showed that while DPF efficiently eliminated larger-sized particulate matter, the filters cannot remove or reduce smaller or ultrafine particles. This contradicts what the DfT (Department of Transport) said about the filters: that they helped lower air pollution levels and their impacts by filtering particulate matter.

The smaller or ultrafine liquid particles are smaller than 2.5µm and 10µm. They are formed after organic materials incompletely ignite. In 20120, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified these particles as carcinogenic. Ultrafine liquid particles are also linked to thousands of environmentally related premature deaths. They are categorised at the same risk level as asbestos and arsenic.

In the 2021 air quality guidelines of the WHO, there is significant mention of the dangers of ultrafine particles, including the fact that they can easily move throughout the body. 

Research process and findings

Professor Harrison and his team gathered air quality data from a Marylebone Road (London) monitoring station. AQ sampling in the area has been a practice since 2010 and the data collected is one of the world’s most comprehensive datasets. 

The findings showed a major reduction in the larger particles, such as black carbon (81% decline between the years 2014 and 2021). For ultrafine particles, however, the reduction was only around 26%. Nanometres, the smallest particles, weren’t affected at all. This is a concerning discovery as ultrafine particles are highly dangerous and can become persistent and widespread.

He also stressed the need for more consistent and stricter actions and measures aimed at reducing toxic diesel vehicle emissions. Governments and authorities should also exert more effort in promoting electric vehicles (EVs), especially among car owners. 

Ultrafine particles at the Marylebone Road were recorded at very high levels – more than 20,000 per cubic cm, numbers that are more than the WHO AQ guidelines. 

Emissions and the Dieselgate scandal

Vehicle emissions have been around for years, but they became quite popular in 2015 when the Dieselgate scandal happened. It was in September of that year when the Volkswagen Group was accused of using defeat devices for Audi and VW diesel vehicles in the US.

These devices reduce emissions when they sense that a vehicle is being tested in the lab. The test is necessary for determining emissions compliance; so, the lower the emission levels, the better for carmakers as the vehicle is easily approved for selling.

This eco-friendly state of the vehicle only holds within laboratory conditions, however. Once the vehicle is out on the roads for real-world driving, it goes back to emitting alarming amounts of nitrogen oxides that often went over the legal limits by up to 40 times. 

Volkswagen did not inform their customers about the defeat devices. Authorities fined VW, asked them to recall affected vehicles, and pay off affected car owners. 

Other vehicle manufacturers embroiled in the fiasco include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Nissan, and Renault. British carmaker Vauxhall is one of the newest on the list, with Vauxhall emissions claim cases starting only a few years ago. Nevertheless, there are already hundreds of thousands of affected vehicles in the UK alone.

Dangerous NOx

NOx emissions negatively affect the environment and can change your life. 

Nitrogen oxide has nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide. These contribute to the formation of smog, acid rain, and ground-level ozone. This type of ozone harms the environment as it damages vegetation.                                                                                                                              

If you are exposed to NOx emissions, the health impacts vary from t mild to life-threatening:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression 
  • Dementia (due to weakened cognitive health)
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory diseases that can develop into COPD 
  • Corroded teeth
  • Asphyxiation
  • Laryngospasm
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Premature death

Authorities believe that carmakers are responsible for exposing drivers to these health impacts. Additionally, these manufacturers lied so they could profit; they never considered the health and safety of their customers. A diesel claim should be bought against them.

Am I qualified to file my diesel claim?

Only certain models manufactured in particular years are affected by the diesel emissions scandal. Therefore, the first thing you should do before starting your claims case is to verify your eligibility. Head on over to ClaimExperts.co.uk to get all the information you need to determine if you are qualified to receive compensation through a diesel claim.

Once you are done with the verification process, sit down with an emissions expert and discuss your plan of action. Decide whether you want to join a Group Litigation Order or GLO (similar to the Americans’ class-action lawsuit) or if you want yours to be a separate individual case.

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