Volkswagen’s use of software to evade emissions testing of its vehicles will directly contribute to 60 people across the country dying 10 to 20 years prematurely, a new MIT-led study finds.
If the automaker recalls every affected vehicle by the end of 2016, more than 130 additional early deaths may be avoided, according to the study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.
But if VW does not order a recall in the U.S., the excess emissions, compounding in the future, will cause 140 people to die early.
The researchers also estimate that Volkswagen’s excess emissions will contribute directly to 31 cases of chronic bronchitis and 34 hospital admissions involving respiratory and cardiac conditions.
The Environmental Protection Agency discovered in September that the German automaker had developed and installed “defeat software” designed to sense when a car was undergoing an emissions test, and only then engage the vehicle’s full emissions-control system, which was disabled under normal driving conditions.
The cheat allows the vehicles to emit 40 times more emissions than permitted by the Clean Air Act.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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