Faked emission tests between 2008 and 2015 allowed Germany's Volkswagen Group – the world's largest car maker – to sell cars that emitted four times the allowable concentrations of pollutants.
Volkswagen admitted rigging the tests in September 2015.The company says it installed technology in 11 million diesel automobiles, allowing them to pass environmental tests for the presence of nitric oxides.
VW has recalled the vehicles, but scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology contend that excess emissions from the cars have had a measurable impact on public health.
MIT researchers previously reported that emissions generated by 482,000 noncompliant diesel cars in the United States would be responsible for approximately 60 premature deaths.The researchers have now set the sights on Europe, where Volkswagen does most of its business.
The results, according to a report published in Environmental Research Letters, is that Volkswagen's cheating will result in the premature death of 1,200 in Europe.Germany, Poland, France, and the Czech Republic are hardest hit by the emissions.
Each affected person will lose as much as a decade of life due to the excess pollutants from Volkswagen cars sold under the VW, Audi, Skoda, and Seat brand.
Germany is hardest-hit, the researchers said, with 500 premature fatalities.
Pollution "doesn't care about political boundaries," said study coauthor Steven Barrett, who teaches aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. "It just goes straight past.Thus, a car in Germany can easily have significant impacts in neighboring countries, especially in densely populated areas such as the European continent."