Lately, the discussion about the pros and cons of diesel and petrol is heating up. The fact that Volkswagen got into trouble for misrepresenting the emission levels of their new cars sparked the discussion even more. And now many other car brands are following suit.

Governments across Europe are discouraging the use of diesel cars. At this moment in time, some cities already have banned the use of older diesel models within their city centres. Other cities, such as London, have launched additional taxes for specific vehicles and there are talks about doing the same in Birmingham. There are many ways of discouraging people to buy diesel cars.

More than 10 years ago, there was a push towards diesel cars though. Resulting in many people being converted to buying a diesel car. Now there has been a total 180° U-turn on this subject. It is understandable that people are confused now.

What do we know about air pollution?

It is said that air pollution is a contributing factor in more than 25,000 of deaths in England every year. Triggering heart attacks and aggravating respiratory conditions. Britain’s roads are busier than ever. With around 320 billion miles being travelled on a yearly basis, it is estimated that about a third of air pollution in urban areas is caused by car fumes.

What does diesel pollution do to our bodies?

Air pollutions is built up from several toxins such as: Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide, small particulate matter and Ozone. But the biggest impact is caused by Nitrogen Dioxide (NO₂). There are limits to the levels of NO₂ that are allowed, introduced by EU law in 1999. But there are not many countries that have been able to reach these targets. Also the UK has not yet managed to reach the set goals.

The main effect of breathing in high levels of NO₂ is an increased chance of respiratory issues. NO2 inflames the lining of the lungs, which in turn could reduce the immunity to lung infections. This can then cause wheezing, coughing, colds, flu, bronchitis and asthma.

The respiratory system is not the only part of the body being damaged by air pollution. Also our brain is influenced. Depending on the levels of NO₂, there could be an incline in the ability to process information. Either slow down the process or limit the capacity. When being exposed to higher levels for longer period of time, there could even be permanent damage sustained. There has been intensive research at the Lancaster, Oxford and Manchester universities. They have discovered that air pollution even is associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.
It has also been proven that air pollution inside a car can be more than double the level of NO₂ than outside, because it builds up in a small space. This toxic air can impair driver fitness. Watery eyes, impaired visibility and an itchy nose could also be distracting for motorist, resulting in accidents.

What to do with your old diesel car?

The sales number of diesel cars dropped by 24.9% in only 12 months. And sales are expected to go down further within the next few years. Taxes will go up and the areas you will be allowed to drive your diesel will become fewer and fewer. So if you are in the position that you need to rethink your choice of car, keep us in mind.