What emissions testers can learn from the Volkswagen scandal

The recent emissions scandal involving auto manufacturer Volkswagen may force
several Australian companies using select automobiles of the brand to take them
off the road.

Volkswagen was recently issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air
Act (CAA) by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The notice referred
to the software in Audi and Volkswagen four-cylinder diesel models from 2009 to
2015 that bypass the country’s emissions standards.

Specific Volkswagen models were equipped with an algorithm that would
activate the vehicle’s emissions management technology whenever it was tested
for pollution control. The software was created to deceive air quality tests
with the emissions control system shutting off once the test was complete. However,
during regular operation, the vehicles would emit harmful gases such as
nitrogen oxide (NOx). In fact, the amount of NOx produced by Volkswagen automobiles
is 40 times greater than the limits specified in the CAA.

Condemning Volkswagen’s actions, Cyntia Giles, assistant administrator
for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said that using a
defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards was illegal and a threat to
public health.

Mining companies and other organisations competing in the industrial
sector use emissions analysers to detect NOx, which according to the EPA,
is a powerful oxidising agent that develops corrosive nitric acid and toxic organic
nitrates. These properties represent serious public safety hazards. For
instance, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) aggravates the lungs, making it difficult for
the body to fight off respiratory infections. Continuous exposure to NO2
has also been linked to acute respiratory illnesses among kids.

The harmful impact of NOx extends to the environment where the gases
expedite ozone development, which can negatively affect various ecosystems. Excessive
amounts of NOx in the atmosphere commonly lead to acid rain and eutrophication,
a process wherein algae thrive from an over-abundance of nutrients.

For more than 40 years, Australia has exercised stringent emissions
regulations for heavy-duty and light vehicles. Australian businesses obliged to
abide by the nation’s emissions laws should ensure their diesel-powered
vehicles are not emitting harmful gases, using emissions analysers that can
help them identify NOx levels.

Those using diesel-powered machines can rely on instruments such
as the testo 340 diesel kits to ensure their vehicles are not polluting
the environment or harming the public.

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