Published: Fri, February 02, 2018
Markets | By Erika Turner

German carmakers backed study to test fumes on humans

German carmakers backed study to test fumes on humans

Several German media, including the "Stuttgarter Zeitung" and the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" said today that manufacturers of the German vehicle industry, led by Volkswagen, have financed experiments in which gasses were emitted from diesel engines to monkeys and humans to check its effects on the respiratory system and blood circulation.

"The boundaries of decent and moral conduct were clearly crossed", said Bernd Osterloh, VW's labour boss, adding he will leave no doubt about workers' opposition to such tests at next week's meeting.

Hans Dieter Poetsch, chairman of the board of directors of Volkswagen, said the tests were â€incomprehensible” in every way.

According to German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung, a study funded by Volkswagen Group, Daimler and BMW in 2007 had 25 people inhaling diesel exhaust fumes at a clinic used by the University of Aachen.

Reports suggest other tests were carried out with humans before the monkey tests were conducted, but the tests on humans involved inhalation of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is commonly associated with diesel engines, rather than exhaust fumes. It was also meant to be a rebuttal to a 2012 finding by the World Health Organization that had classified diesel fumes as a carcinogen.

"We are convinced that the scientific methods chosen at the time were wrong". Scientists had in no way been influenced in their work by the likes of Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler, he said.

A Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute study that used 10 monkeys to test the effects of breathing tailpipe exhaust has entangled the Albuquerque organization in Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal.

Daimler, which owns Mercedes, told the AFP news agency it "condemns the experiments in the strongest terms".

The research was commissioned by the European Scientific Study Group for the Environment, Health and Transport Sector, which officially ceased operations previous year amid controversy over its work.

Hans Dieter Poetsch the chairman of Volkswagen
Hans Dieter Poetsch the chairman of Volkswagen

The study, conducted in 2014, was created to defend diesel following revelations that the fuel's exhaust fumes were carcinogenic, the New York Times reported.

On Monday, the German government condemned the experiments and Volkswagen tried to distance itself from them.

In a statement over the weekend, Volkswagen apologised for the misconduct and lack of judgment shown by individuals.

"Letting 10 monkeys breathe in vehicle emissions for hours to prove that there has been a reduction in the amount of poisonous emissions is horrid and absurd", state Premier Stephan Weil said.

Despite the wave of apologizes, the monkey business isn't going away anytime soon as Reuters reports Volkswagen's supervisory board has called for an investigation into who commissioned the tests.

Volkswagen, the world's biggest carmaker, is under fire globally from politicians and environmentalists following revelations it commissioned experiments in which monkeys and humans breathed in auto fumes for hours at a time.

Neither the monkey test nor the Aachen test revealed anything of use to the companies involved, with the monkey test being so pointless no report or conclusion was ever released.

The German government, "has no understanding for such tests ... that do not serve science but merely PR aims", Ingo Strater, a spokesman for Transport Minister Christian Schmidt, told reporters in Berlin. "We believe the animal tests in this study were unnecessary and repulsive".

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