Volkswagen’s diesel cheating could cause 60 people to die early

October 30, 2015, 2:17 PM UTC

Volkswagen’s scandal in which software dubbed “defeat devices” masked the actual amount of excess diesel emissions in some models may be linked to 60 deaths in the U.S. by next year’s end, according to a recently released MIT and Harvard study.

The report found that Volkswagen models affected by the scandal emitted 40 times the amount if nitrous oxide cars than is allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We all have risk factors in our lives, and [excess emissions] is another small risk factor,” said Steven Barrett of MIT, who co-authored the report. “If you take into account the additional risk due to the excess Volkswagen emissions, then roughly 60 people have died or will die early, and on average, a decade or more early.”

But that’s not all. The study found that “approximately 31 cases of chronic bronchitis, 34 hospital admissions, 120,000 minor restricted activity days, 21,000 lower respiratory symptom days, and 33,000 days of increased bronchodilator usage” may be attributed to the Volkswagen, too.


The study also estimated that the cost of these deaths to the economy was about $450 million, an amount that would increase to $910 million if there was no recall of the offending vehicles.

Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn stepped down as CEO in September as a result of the findings.