Professor Frank Kelly, chairman of the Department of Health’s committee on air pollution, has stated that ministers have created a public health crisis by ‘blindly’ promoting diesel cars. He argues that diesel engines are potentially responsible for more than 7000 deaths a year in Britain.
More than half of UK-registered cars are diesel which had been promoted in the 1970s since they generate far less carbon dioxide than petrol vehicles. However, scientists have realised that diesel produces more particles and nitrogen oxides that can cause a variety of long-term health problems.
While catalytic converters have rapidly improved in petrol cars, advances have been slower in diesel until very recently. The toxic fumes pumped out by diesel cars were behind the smog which blanketed Britain at the beginning of April.
According to health experts, air pollution can cause strokes, asthma and heart failure.