Rabat – The world’s biggest carmaker, Volkswagen, is facing backlash after the New York Times reported on January 25, 2018 that a US institute commissioned by the German auto firm carried out diesel fume inhalation tests on humans and monkeys in 2014.
During this test, aimed to prove that diesel vehicles equipped with the latest technology were cleaner than older models, Volkswagen reportedly forced ten monkeys to inhale diesel exhaust fumes while being locked in airtight chambers and watching cartoons for distraction.
The German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday that tests on the effects of inhaling toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) were also carried out on some 25 healthy human beings.
The World Health Organisation points out that nitrogen oxides exposure “can increase symptoms of bronchitis and asthma, lead to respiratory infections and reduced lung function and growth.”
The studies were conducted by an organisation known as the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) as part of an experiment financed by Volkswagen alongside fellow German auto sector stalwarts Daimler and BMW.
Following these revelations, Volkswagen released a statement that “explicitly distances itself clearly from all forms of animal abuse,” apologizing for the “misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals.”
“We’re convinced the scientific methods chosen then were wrong. It would have been better to do without such a study in the first place,” Wolfsburg, Germany-based VW, said in a statement.
The Volkswagen’s supervisory board says it will conduct a full investigation, describing the experiments as “utterly incomprehensible.”
The sale of diesel cars in Europe and United States has been in steady decline, as several studies showed that even the newest diesel-engine cars produce pollution far above what is legally permitted.
One study carried out by Transport & Environment, a Brussels-based lobby for sustainable transport, has found that “a typical diesel car emits 42.65 tonnes of carbon dioxide over its lifecycle, or 3.65 tonnes more than a petrol car.”
In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation to Volkswagen, after discovering that the company installed misleading gauges to make car engines appear less polluting than they actually were.