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Your diesel car could be 10 times more toxic than trucks and buses

There is a chance your diesel car produces 10 times more toxic air pollution than a bus or truck, according to new data from Europe.

A report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a key player in exposing the VW emissions 'dieselgate' emissions scandal, claims cars can be much more damaging for your health than big vehicles.

It discovered heavy-duty vehicles tested in Germany and Finland emitted 210mg of nitrogen oxide (NOx) per kilometre travelled, which is less than half of the 500mg/km emitted by modern diesel engines compliant with Euro-6 regulations.

Factoring in the bigger engine demands of a truck and bus, on a fuel consumption basis a diesel car was found to emit 10 times more NOx.

The issue is said to stem from the fact manufacturers are able to test prototype cars in laboratories where conditions can be controlled, which skews the results, whereas trucks and buses can be randomly selected for a mandatory test of emissions.

Experts claim the stricter rules –introduced back in 2011 – are responsible for a substantial fall in NOx emissions generated by heavier vehicles.

Changes to the car testing regime in September 2017 will require the fitment of a portable emissions measurement system (PEMS) and driving on public roads, although there are concerns this may not be enough to keep manufacturers from cheating the system.

“Manufacturers will still be allowed to carefully select special prototype cars for emissions testing," ICCT managing director, Peter Mock, explained to the Guardian.

"Instead, it would be much better to measure the emissions of ordinary mass-production vehicles, obtained from customers who have had been driving them in an ordinary way," he suggested.

This particular system of testing emissions is already being used in America in light of the dieselgate scandal, which has cost VW billions of pounds.

On the 17th of January 2017, the European commission will discuss whether the same method of testing could be used in Europe – a move the ICCT claims has upset a number of EU member states and vehicle manufacturers, though avoided naming any names.

Air pollution is becoming an increasingly big problem, with millions of people dying worldwide dying prematurely because of it. In Europe alone, nitrogen oxide causes tens of thousands of early deaths.

Not only that, certain elements of pollution have been proven to cause cancer and there are reports of other potential side-effects such as giving you bad skin, causing you to drive badly, various lung disorders and dementia.

Although it may come as a shock to see just how polluting diesel cars can be, this is old actually news. A similar study found diesels emitted up to four times more NOx pollution than a bus ─ and that was back in 2015.

Smoking gun

There was a point when the UK Government was keen on getting everyone into a diesel, but then a U-turn followed in recent years and now it wants to penalise them, as we have seen with the 2017 VED 'car tax' changes coming into force in April.

The news could go from bad to worse for the diesel camp as plans to introduce clean air zones in UK cities are being revisited, which means you may end up having to pay to enter the likes of Cardiff and Manchester.

We must, of course, admit the fact the research could well have been weighted in such a way to paint a worse picture than the reality. But the key point remains: Is it not time manufacturers were more honest about how polluting their cars really are?

Then again, maybe the witch hunt is a (warning: conspiracy theory) precursor to a diesel tax rise that would rake in more money? Money being lost as more and more consumers adopt hybrids and electric cars, perhaps.

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