Government emissions tests have drastically underestimated the pollution created by diesel trucks, cars and other vehicles, according to a study

Government emissions tests have drastically underestimated the pollution created by diesel trucks, cars and other vehicles, according to a study published this week in Nature.

Instead of the previously estimated 9.4 million tons of emissions worldwide, researchers calculate the actual amount was 5 million tons higher, saying the discrepancy comes from not testing vehicles under real-world conditions.

The study estimates the added soot and smog could be responsible for an additional 38,000 deaths a year from heart and lung diseases. Most of those added deaths would be in the EU, China and India, which have a higher proportion of diesel vehicles.

Ironically, the study comes at a time when one lab that could help better understand diesel emissions, the EPA’s National Vehicle and Fuel Emissions Laboratory, faces severe budget cuts under President Trump’s budget plan.

John R. Platt

is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His “Extinction Countdown” column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.

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