Damages and Expected Deaths Due to Excess NOx Emissions from 2009-2015 Volkswagen Diesel Vehicles


Stephen P. Holland, Erin T. Mansur, Nicholas Z. Muller, and Andrew J. Yates

Environmental Science and Technology, Volume 50, Issue 3, February 2016, Pages 1111−1117.



We estimate the damages and expected deaths in the United States due to excess emissions of NOx from 2009-2015 Volkswagen diesel vehicles. Using data on vehicle registrations and a model of pollution transport and valuation, we estimate excess damages of $430 million and 46 excess expected deaths. Accounting for uncertainty about emissions gives a range for damages from $350 million to $500 million, and a range for excess expected deaths from 40 to 52. Our estimates incorporate significant local heterogeneity: e.g., Minneapolis has the highest damages despite having fewer noncompliant vehicles than thirteen other cities. Our estimated damages greatly exceed possible benefits from reduced CO2 emissions due to increased fuel economy.