Public health impact and economic costs of Volkswagen’s lack of compliance with the United States’ emission standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a notice of violation against Volkswagen (VW) for installing a defective device in certain models of diesel cars to circumvent emission tests for nitrogen oxides (NOx). We quantified the health and economic impacts of extra NOx emissions attributable to non-compliant vehicles in the U.S. using the EPA’s Co-Benefits Risk Assessment model. We estimated that the total extra NOx emitted over one year of operation would result in 5 to 50 premature deaths, 687 to 17,526 work days with restricted activity, and economic costs of $43,479,189 to $423,268,502, based on various assumptions regarding emission scenarios and risks. This study highlights the potential impacts of VW vehicles’ lack of compliance on the health and well-being of the U.S. population.

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