Diesel vehicles are emitting more cancer-causing particles than ever. This is solidifying the fact that cars operating on diesel fuel are not only detrimental to the environment, but also to human health, directly. This is despite the fact that some automakers have stated diesel fuel is clean-burning and safe and presents no real threat to the environment or the people who are near the car itself.
A study performed by Transport and Environment, a non-profit that’s shaped some of Europe’s most important environmental laws in the last 30 years, showed that Japan’s Nissan Qashqai (called the Rogue Sport in the United States) and the Opel Astra emit between 11 and 184% more potentially cancer-causing particles when using diesel fuel than regular gasoline. The issue with these ultra-fine particles is that they may fly under any regulatory radar given its small size. “It’s thought that ultrafine particles, which are smaller than the size of a typical virus, could be the most dangerous form of car pollution as they can penetrate deep into the body and have been linked to brain cancer,” notes T&E, adding “But currently only solid particles which are larger than 23nm in diameter are regulated – despite regulators knowing for years that cars also emit these tiny particles.”
T&E is currently working toward creating new measures that would require these ultrafine particles that are smaller than 23 nanometres in diameter to be included in future tests composed by governments. Currently, T&E laboratory tests simulate real-world driving and measure a range of pollutants that are not regulated by governments. These include these ultrafine particles that are both “volatile and semi-volatile”.
T&E states the particles are capable of penetrating deep into a human’s body and are linked to brain cancer. The presence of these particles on the road is hurting other drivers, as well as pedestrians near the road. Unfortunately, these forms of pollution are neglected by legal jurisdiction and are under no scrutiny from lawmakers.
This is despite their extremely harmful properties that were discovered by scientists and emissions engineers at T&E. This includes Anna Kajinska who worked with her team at T&E to test these newly discovered particles during laboratory experiments.
“Regulated particles are only half the story. The smallest ultrafine particles are thought to pose a bigger threat yet they’re ignored by official tests. The next Euro pollution standard must close the loopholes and set limits for all pollutants. The endgame is a standard that demands zero emissions from cars on our roads,” Krajinska said.
Volkswagen exec reaffirms commitment to diesel: ‘Now it is absolutely clean’
Automakers who continue to hold the narrative that diesel fuels are clean and safe need to be held accountable for their decision to continue manufacturing these dangerous vehicles. While the phase-out of these vehicles is becoming a more popular strategy to save the Earth, some companies state there is no risk, providing a false context to people that the car they are choosing to purchase is doing more damage than ever thought before.
The time to act on these pollutants is more important now than it has ever been. With the unfortunate presence of these microparticles in the air, cancers and other diseases are more likely to be spread from the tailpipe of a car to a human’s lungs. Regulations need to be made and applied to manufacturers so people and our atmosphere are not put at risk due to dangerous chemicals and pollutants in the air.