| Last updated
Diesel fumes and toxic air are causing thousands of unreported death, with buses, lorries and diesel cars creating more air pollution than standard testing suggests, scientists have claimed.
Excess emissions of exhaust fume containing certain nitrogen oxides (NOx) can be linked to an extra 38,000 premature deaths across the globe, new research has suggested.
The gases can damage lung tissue, as well as reacting with chemicals in the atmosphere to produce harmful ground-level ozone and ultra-fine particles.
The team, which included scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the International Council on Clean Transportation (a US-based non-profit organisation), analysed data from 30 studies of vehicle emissions around the world under real-world driving conditions.
Credit: PA Images
They found that, in 2015, diesel vehicles generated 13.1 million tons of NOx in the 11 major vehicle markets studied. However, had the emissions met the testing standards imposed in those markets, the amount of NOx produced would have been closer to 8.6 million tons.
Co-author of the study, Dr Susan Anenberg from the consultancy firm Environmental Health Analytics LLC, said: "The consequences of excess diesel NOx emissions for public health are striking."
The scientists predict that in 23 years time diesel vehicles around the world will be causing 183,600 premature deaths each year unless further action is taken to curb their emissions.
Enforcing more stringent emission limits could prevent 174,000 deaths related to fine particles and ozone in 2040, they say.
Credit: PA Images
The researchers estimates come on top of the World Health Organisation's estimate of 3.7 million deaths being caused by outdoor air pollution, and after the level of toxic air in London hit the highest black alert earlier this year.
Last month a 'ultra low emission zone' was announced by London Mayor Sadiq Khan after top doctors warned time was "running out" to protect the capital's children from air pollution.
From 8 April 2019, the most polluting cars, vans and motorbikes will have to pay £12.50 to drive through central London, while buses, coaches and HGVs will pay £100.
Ahead of the general election Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens have agreed that there should be a new Clean Air Act to clean up diesel fumes. But as yet, the Conservatives have not mentioned a Clean Air Act and say they would only charge as a last resort.
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read