Volkswagen’s rigging of emissions tests for 11 million cars could mean the company is responsible for nearly 1 million tons of air pollution every year, roughly the same as the UK’s combined emissions for all power stations, vehicles, industry and agriculture, according to a report in the London newspaper, The Guardian.

A Guardian analysis found recalled U.S. vehicles would have spewed between 10,392 and 41,571 tons of toxic gas into the air each year, if they had covered the average annual U.S. mileage. If they had complied with EPA standards, they would have emitted just 1,039 tons of NOx each year in total.

If the company’s estimates of rigged emissions is accurate, , VW’s defective vehicles could be responsible for between 237,161 and 948,691 tons of NOx emissions each year, 10 to 40 times the pollution standard for new models in the U.S.

Nitric Oxide (chemical name NO) and nitrogen dioxide (chemical name NO2) are both found in diesel fumes and are collectively referred to as nitrogen oxides, or NOx. Note: Only three percent of U.S. vehicles use diesel fuel, compared to almost 50 percent of European vehicles. So the emission problem is far worse in Europe than in the U.S.

NOx gases both cause some environmental problems, but it is really only NO2that causes health problems.

High concentrations of nitrogen dioxide are harmful because they cause inflammation of the airways. But it can also react to form other secondary pollutants, such as ozone, which create their own health problems.

Nitrous oxide is N2O, or laughing gas. This is not found in diesel fumes.

Source The Guardian UK