Public Health Impact and Economic Costs of Volkswagen's Lack of Compliance with the United States' Emission Standards

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2016 Sep 8;13(9):891. doi: 10.3390/ijerph13090891.


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.

Keywords: nitrogen oxides; risk assessment; vehicle emissions.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Air Pollutants* / economics
  • Air Pollutants* / standards
  • Automobiles
  • Government Regulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Nitrogen Oxides* / economics
  • Nitrogen Oxides* / standards
  • Public Health
  • Risk Assessment
  • United States
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • Vehicle Emissions*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Vehicle Emissions