Diesel engine emissions responsible for 5,000 air pollution deaths annually in Europe: Study

A new study published today reveals that emissions from diesel cars' rigged to appear ecofriendly might be responsible for 5,000 air pollution deaths per year in Europe alone.

The numbers are consistent with previous assessments of deaths due to the so-called "Dieselgate" scandal, which came to the fore when carmaker Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating on vehicle emissions tests.

Many other car makers have since come are under suspicion.

According to a study published in the journal Nature in May this year,  "excess" emissions from diesel vehicles exceeding certification limits were associated with about 38,000 "premature" deaths globally in 2015.

The new study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, focuses on the risks  for Europe.

According to the researchers from Norway, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands, about 10,000 deaths in Europe per year could be attributed to small particle pollution from light duty diesel vehicles (LDDVs).

Had the levels been true to the claims almost half of the deaths would have been avoided.

Volkswagen admitted that it had installed illegal software devices in cars that reduced emissions only for the duration of tests.

According to the authors, if diesel cars were to emit as little NOx as petrol ones, almost 4,000 of the 5,000 premature deaths would have been avoided.

The disturbing figures come from the study by Norwegian Meteorological Institute (NMI), Austria's International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

The research led by the NMI's Jan Eiof Jonson, found that air pollution in Europe accounted for 425,000 premature deaths every year and most of the deaths were due to respiratory and cardiovascular failure caused by exposure to fine particulate matter – of which various nitrogen oxides (known collectively as NOx) are a key precursor and the principle pollutant emitted by diesel engines.

''If diesel car emissions were as low as petrol car emissions, three quarters, or about 7,500, premature deaths could have been avoided,'' says co-author Jens Borken-Kleefeld, Cosmos reported.