Fumes on people: Volkswagen, Daimler & BMW sponsored exhaust experiments, say German media

Volkswagen alleged to have rigged experiment with monkeys to show safe level of emissions
German Carmakers Criticized for Emissions Research on Monkeys
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01 February, 2018

German media say the health impact research was done by EUGT, a body funded by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW.

Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, Germany's three most emblematic auto brands, return to point of view for a new and risky scandal.

"We are conscious of our social and corporate responsibilities and are taking the criticism regarding the study very seriously", the statement read. Daimler, for its part, said it "condemn (s) the experiments in the strongest terms", and was "appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation."

It remains unclear whether the carmakers were aware of monkeys being used in the experiments.

However, and here's the rub, the testing on animals will continue beyond cosmetics, with the monkey study a case in point of how companies and research organisations side-step laws. The university had followed typical procedures, such as approval by an ethics commission as well as written consent from each participant, it said.

"Volkswagen took a lead role in the study".

In one of the experiments, monkeys were forced to inhale exhaust fumes from a Volkswagen Beetle and an older pickup for several hours, in an attempt to prove the Beetle's clean emission standards. The tests, conducted in 2014, were first revealed last week by The New York Times, which had acquired accounts of the trials from lawsuits filed in the United States.

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"The minister has no understanding for such tests, which damage animals and humans and that do not serve science but merely PR aims", Mr Strater said.

"The Süddeutscher and both reported on Monday that a research group funded by the auto industry giants tested the effects of gas nitrogen dioxide - a component of vehicle exhaust - on "[25] healthy young persons". Even short-term inhaling of the gas can have serious health repercussions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The pollutant may negatively affect respiratory organs of animals and humans and cause cough, breathing difficulties and eye irritation.

It says exposure is "linked to premature mortality. from cardiovascular and respiratory diseases".

The vehicle companies have met the global ire with apologies, though all three argue they were not involved in setting up the experiments. It said the experiments were related to workplace safety of truck drivers and maintenance workers, and that the levels of chemical used were below allowable limits. Seibert added that it was the job of auto makers to reduce emissions produced by their vehicles, rather than attempting to prove that nitrogen oxide was not harmful. They appear to have been disconnected from emissions tests. Asked what happened to the monkeys after the study, McDonald said it as "a non-terminal" experiment, meaning the animals weren't euthanized once it ended. Funnily enough, the results of the human tests have not been released, but a scientist involved said on Monday that they were of "limited value" as the findings would not apply to the general population and nitrogen oxides are not the only harmful chemicals in diesel exhaust. The scandal's fallout cost the company over $25 billion.

The devices and the software that accompanied them allowed the German automaker to evade US regulators for years.


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