The Toxic Substances Emitted by Diesel

The stunt pulled off by Volkswagen, equipping its diesel vehicles with a defeat device, a computer software that is capable of automatically altering its vehicle’s engine operation and speed if it is being tested, was definitely a bold move. However, cheating its way into US market by making it appear that its cars produced clean diesel was a clear breach of public trust and an endangerment of public health, according to the US Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

Cars that run on diesel may be the future of vehicles driven on American roads and highways; for the meantime, however, this is not an immediately foreseeable possibility due to the greater human health and environmental hazards produced by diesel.

While cars running on diesel engine abound in Europe, in the US these only made up about 3.2% of the total auto sales in the year 2012. This is because though diesel is 20% to 40% more efficient than gasoline, it is known to produce particulate matter and nitrogen oxide (NOx) which are more toxic than carbon dioxide, the global-warming gas emitted by gasoline-run engines.

The question that may pop up here is how is it that cars and trucks that use diesel, despite the threat of nitrogen oxide, are allowed to continue running on US roads and highways whereas cars produced by Volkswagen, which number close to half a million, have to be recalled? The answer, according to the US Department of Energy, is the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel which greatly reduces the stinky, sooty substance that diesel usually emits; of course, there is also the fact that carmakers have found a very effective means of trapping the type of air pollution emitted by diesel. Volkswagen, it seems is not aware of these, otherwise, it would have resorted to any of these two rather than resort to cheating – by equipping its diesel cars with a defeat device designed to reduce the emission of nitrogen oxides during testing. Outside a controlled environment, however, Volkswagen diesel cars are said to be emitting pollutants that are 10% to 40% higher than the limit set by the Environmental Protection Agency-enforced Clean Air Act.

Volkswagen diesel cars can definitely assure fuel economy and more mileage; but one other thing it has also assured is the buildup of rage among car owners and environmentalists. A Volkswagen emissions fraud lawyer may be able to explain to owners of cars who have been wronged by Volkswagen’s act of consumer fraud, how they may be able to hold the company accountable for the betrayal of their trust.

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