Volkswagen Apologizes for Testing of Diesel Fumes on Monkeys

Volkswagen Apologizes for Testing of Diesel Fumes on Monkeys

Such tests could not be justified, the government said, demanding details.

The company said on Monday a small internal group had mistakenly pushed for the tests to be carried out and that they did not reflect VW's ethos.

As part of the study, 25 people were exposed to varying levels of nitrogen dioxide for three hours to investigate the possible health effects of the chemical compound in concentrations below the limit for workplaces, Uniklinik RWTH Aachen said in a statement.

Daimler on Sunday condemned the studies, which were conducted by the same research body that sponsored an experiment forcing monkeys to inhale toxic exhaust fumes from a polluting diesel Volkswagen equipped with illegal software. 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. According to the NZ Herald, Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, described the experiments as "abominable".

"That a whole branch of industry has apparently tried to discard scientific facts with such brazen and dubious methods makes the entire thing even more horrific".

The New York Times reported earlier about a 2014 trial in a USA laboratory in which 10 monkeys inhaled diesel emissions from a VW Beetle. "We condemn the experiments in the strongest terms", the company told Bloomberg.

The tests were helmed by the European Research Association for Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, known by its German acronym of EUGT, according to the German account.

The experiment was conducted in 2014 and created to defend diesel following allegations the fuel's exhaust fumes cause cancer.

The report adds that the Beetle used in the test was one of the millions programmed to dramatically reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) when lab testing is detected, thus invalidating the data obtained.

Critics blame diesel fumes for thousands of deaths in the United Kingdom each year, but the vehicle industry insists cleaner diesel engines should not be vilified as they contribute to lower Carbon dioxide emissions.

In 2014, the research body also commissioned a USA lab to conduct experiments on monkeys to study whether nitrogen oxides in diesel exhausts are harmful to them.

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

Auto industry-sponsored research "all has the same fundamental aim", Joachim Heinrich, an environmental health expert at the University of Munich, tells The New York Times.

A spokesman for VW Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said the supervisory board's executive committee will meet next week to discuss the internal investigations and ensure that such incidents will not be repeated.

The animals, 10 cynomolgus macaque monkeys, bred exclusively for medical experiments, were held in chambers into which exhaust fumes from a Volkswagen Beetle running on a treadmill was directly pumped. "We want to absolutely rule out testing on animals for the future so that this doesn't happen again", Bild quoted Steg as saying.

Responding to widespread reports that humans were harmed in automotive industry experiments, however, Professor Thomas Kraus, who led the controversial 2013 study at the University of Aachen, emphasized that it was not related to diesel engines.

It's believed that initials plans for the study involved "human participants on exercise bikes", the magazine says, instead of "primates watching TVs".

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