In June 2022, experts shared a report that showed how air pollution can shorten lives. More specifically, EPIC’s (the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago) report shares the glaring fact that billions of lives are lost to air pollution year after year. Anyone exposed to toxic air will have to accept the possibility that their lives will be cut short by at least 2.2 years. So, collectively, around 17 billion years are lost.

What pollution does to a person’s life is similar to what wars and conflict, HIV and AIDS, unsafe water consumption, and drug and alcohol use do to people.

The report also revealed one important finding: most of those seriously impacted by air pollution reside in South Asia, with India being the highest contributor (44%) from 2013 until 2022 (at the time the report commenced). The majority of those affected reside in areas with excessive levels of toxic air.

If air quality levels do not improve, South Asians’ life expectancy can be reduced by five years.

EPIC focused on collecting data about particulate matter or PM2.5, which are tiny particles that enter the body through the lungs and eventually find their way into the bloodstream.

The most important takeaway from the report is the realisation that air pollution is a global problem that deserves undivided attention.

It is important to note, however, that many countries have already formulated and started observing policies focused on improving air quality and reducing toxic air emissions. People have also become more aware and sensitive to the impacts of air pollution. Residents, communities, and neighbourhoods need to be committed to bringing down toxic air levels; otherwise, government policies and programs will not be as effective.

Two years ago, in 2021, not one country met the air quality standards that the World Health Organization (WHO) set. It’s high time for countries and their leaders to come up with more regulations and strictly implement each one without question.

Why emissions are dangerous

Emissions from diesel vehicles are known as nitrogen oxides (or NOx). This group of gases has negative impacts on the environment and can destroy lives. Two of the most dangerous gases that make up NOx are NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and NO (nitric oxide). They contribute to the dangerous nature of nitrogen oxides.

When nitrogen oxide mixes with other chemicals or elements, it forms pollutants such as ground-level ozone, smog, and acid rain. With long-term exposure, it also damages vegetation.

When a person regularly breathes in NOx emissions, they are exposed to toxic gases that may cause health issues such as dementia (due to reduced cognitive abilities), asthma and other respiratory illnesses, pulmonary oedema, and nausea. Some people even develop COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a group of lung diseases that obstruct airflow. People with COPD have a difficult time breathing. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are some of the diseases that hound people with COPD.

Exposure to nitrogen oxide also has serious health impacts, the most common of which are cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and premature death.

There are also people exposed to NOx whose mental health is easily affected. As a result, they often have episodes of anxiety and depression.

Nitrogen oxide emissions affect all age groups, with seniors, pregnant women, and infants considered the most vulnerable.

NOx emissions are the reason why governments and authorities have set standard emissions regulations that every carmaker is expected to follow.

What happens if emissions regulations are violated?

The Dieselgate scandal happened because the Volkswagen Group and other carmakers violated emissions regulations. US authorities investigated and found out that VW used defeat devices on their diesel vehicles – Volkswagen and Audi.

Defeat devices sense when a vehicle is being tested for emissions compliance. They manipulate controls so they can bring down emissions levels to within the WHO’s legal limits. This makes the vehicle pass emissions testing even if it is a heavy pollutant. The vehicle appears safe for driving and selling, but when testing is over, it reveals its real emissions.

When driven on real-world roads, the vehicle emits massive amounts of NOx, often at levels that go over the EU and WHO standards. As such, any vehicle equipped with a defeat device is a pollutant.

Authorities asked the carmaker to recall all affected vehicles and pay fines and compensation.

The Volkswagen Group hid real emissions from and lied to their customers. Other carmakers that also got involved in the diesel emissions scandal misled their customers as well. BMW is one of these manufacturers and they’ve had to recall affected vehicles as well. BMW emission claim cases have also been brought to court through a GLO or Group Litigation Order.

Filing my BMW diesel claim

Filing a diesel claim is the best action for affected carmakers. Aside from receiving compensation, you also help authorities get rid of manufacturers who prefer to earn profit over saving lives.

Before proceeding with your diesel claim, though, you have to visit ClaimExperts.co.uk to verify if you are eligible to receive compensation. Once done, you can start working with an emissions expert and increase your chances of winning the claim.