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The following is a summation of a 2018 study conducted by MIT scientist in the European Union, (EU), who found emissions from most diesel cars greatly exceeded laboratory testing levels, producing 16-times more emissions in real-world driving that ultimately caused 2,700 premature deaths across the EU by a decade. While we recognize the studies focus was on cars (and not buses), diesel fuel is the same the world over. 









Prompted by the 2015 scandal involving German automaker Volkswagen, found guilty of cheating federal emissions tests on 11 million passenger vehicles sold in the US, Steven Barrett, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and the study’s lead author, joined his MIT colleagues, (co-authors) Guillaume Chossière, Robert Malina (now at Hasselt University), Florian Allroggen, Sebastian Eastham, and Raymond Speth, in finding, (emphasis added), “Cleaner diesel may not be the answer: The solution is to eliminate NOx altogether. We know there are human health impacts right down to pre-industrial levels, so there’s no safe level. At this point in time, it’s not that we have to go back to [gasoline]. It’s more that electrification is the answer, and ultimately we do have to have zero emissions in cities.”


While this study did not specifically focus on diesel particulate matter, (DPM) – diesel soot particles formed from incomplete combustion – it did focus on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, a byproduct of diesel exhaust. The results were devastating. 


Wherever DPM is emitted, it remains local – a danger to those in and around the 14th St. bus garage – but when these NOx emissions – a gas – are combined with the natural ammonia in the air, tiny particles are formed that are capable of traveling long distances, ending up in areas where there is less NOx emissions.

The study showed that those inhabitants – thousands of miles away – experienced a disproportionate number of premature deaths from excess emissions originating somewhere else. 


When inhaled, the particles can lodge deep in the lungs, increasing your chances of developing asthma, or asthma-like conditions, other respiratory diseases, as well as pulmonary and cardiac conditions. It gets in your blood stream where it remains for the rest of your life; it cannot be removed. NOX emissions also contribute heavily to smog, which has bad connotations for the health of all mammals, including your pets. 

                                   THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CLEAN DIESEL! -- It's an oxymoron


The study says 2,700 people each year will have their lives shortened by at least a decade – 10-years – because of the extra pollutants. The sad news is, in the end the study notes, even if all 10 car manufacturers tested were to meet the on-road emissions performance of the best manufacturer in the study group, it would avoid 1,900 premature deaths due to NOx exposure, leaving 800 people with a high degree of uncertainty. The study concludes – and we agree – ultimately, regulators and manufacturers will have to go even further to prevent emissions-associated mortalities.


“There’s No Safe Level” of NOX Pollutants (Except Zero)

Further information about the MIT study:

For the full MIT study/report:


For truncated version and news articles of the MIT study/report:

Chu, J., & MIT News Office. (2018, September 21). Study: Emissions from most diesel cars in Europe greatly exceed laboratory testing levels. Retrieved January 24, 2020, from​

Howard, B. (2018, September 26). Even Clean Diesel Exhaust Has Health Risks: MIT Study. Retrieved January 24, 2020, from

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