In the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, a team of researchers from Imperial College London and the universities of Beijing and Oxford published the findings of their study on air pollution and its link to mental health.
Researchers conducted the study on around 500,000 adults in the UK for more than 11 years and monitored how many times they experienced anxiety and depression. They discovered that people who resided in places where air pollution levels are higher had more probability of going through mental health-related issues. They also found out that even low pollution levels can also lead to incidences of anxiety and depression, especially if exposure is long-term.
Additionally, they identified 15,835 cases of anxiety and 13,131 cases of depression from the samples that they got. The researchers focused on PM10, PM2.5, nitric oxide (NO), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). NO and NO2 combined produce nitrogen oxide or NOx.
The study was published at a time when UK ministers had to deal with the criticisms after they passed new AQ guidelines that significantly exceeded the World Health Organization’s regulated targets, particularly for PM2.5.
Instead of following the WHO’s 2005 air quality level of 5 micrograms per cubic metre, the ministers approved a 12-microgram annual mean concentration for PM2.5 by the year 2028.
One of the reasons the study was conducted was to encourage authorities and the government to produce stricter policies and air pollution control regulations. Researchers also hope that the results would allow authorities to understand the need to lower air pollution legal limits.
University of Leicester environmental epidemiology professor Anna Hansell said the research also sheds light on the common effects of air pollution on a person’s mental health. Aside from anxiety and depression, evidence also suggested a decline in cognitive health.
One of the major pollutants researchers focused on, NOx or nitrogen oxide, is popular in the UK because of the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal.
Recalling the Dieselgate scandal
United States authorities accused German carmaker the Volkswagen Group of installing defeat devices in their Audi and VW diesel vehicles. Thousands of the vehicles sold to US drivers were recalled upon the orders of the California Air Resources Board. Defeat devices fool regulators into thinking the cars the mechanisms are installed in are emissions-compliant as the latter manipulate emissions testing.
Once a defeat device detects that a vehicle has been brought to the lab for testing, it immediately reduces emission levels so these would be within the WHO’s legal limits. Thus, the vehicle is safe and clean. It complies with emissions requirements. However, this is only good when the vehicle is in the lab and being evaluated.
As soon as the vehicle is on real roads, it releases illegal and harmful levels of NOx, sometimes 40 times over the legal limits. This means the vehicle is a pollutant and should not be allowed on the road.
Aside from Volkswagen, other carmakers have also been implicated in the scandal. BMW and Mercedes-Benz followed not long after and, just like VW, they were asked to recall affected vehicles aside from paying off drivers, fees, and fines.
British carmaker Vauxhall is one of the carmakers involved in the diesel emissions scandal. The German Federal Motor Transport or KBW was the one that discovered the carmaker’s illegal use of defeat devices. Like VW, BMW, and Mercedes, the carmaker was also ordered to recall all affected vehicles.
The Vauxhall emissions claim may be new but it has already created ripples across the automobile industry. Lawyers are urging car owners to bring their carmakers to court.
Why is NOx bad?
NOx is dangerous. It contributes to the formation of smog and acid rain, two air pollution elements that adversely impact a person’s health. Moreover, NOx produces a pollutant called ground-level ozone. It also poses negative impacts on the environment.
Exposure to nitrogen oxide emissions can lead to many health conditions, from mild ones to serious, life-changing conditions.
- Respiratory diseases than can develop into COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Vomiting and nausea
- Pulmonary oedema
- Corroded teeth
- Cardiovascular disease
- Premature death
As mentioned earlier, exposure to air pollution, especially NOx, can lead to mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. Additionally, a decline in public health means dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease.
Lying to their customers and exposing drivers to the life-altering, threatening impacts of NOx emissions are evidence that carmakers value profit more than human safety. They should be held responsible for these actions, and the ideal way to do this is to file a diesel claim.
Why do I need my diesel claim?
Your diesel claim is your legal right to bring your carmaker to court for their use of illegal defeat devices. If your case is successful, they will financially compensate you for the inconveniences they have caused you.
However, since not all vehicles are affected by defeat devices, it is imperative for you to visit Emissions.co.uk and get all the information you need to determine your eligibility to receive compensation. Once you’re done verifying, you can sit down with an emissions expert and decide whether you want to file an individual case or join a group litigation order or GLO. You can start your Vauxhall emissions claim process from there.