As Cartoons Played, Monkeys Forced to Breathe Diesel Fumes

Other experiments involved humans
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2018 10:26 AM CST
In this Aug. 2, 2017, file photo, the exhaust pipes of a VW car are photographed in Frankfurt, Germany.   (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file)

(Newser) – Could carmakers replace cable companies in the battle for the title of Most Reviled Industry? This news out of Germany could certainly help. The BBC reports German carmakers funded research that involved having humans and monkeys inhale diesel exhaust fumes to gauge the health impact. The research was done at the behest of the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (aka EUGT), which was exclusively funded by Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW until they did away with the group in 2017. In a lengthy article published Thursday, the New York Times dug into the monkey side of things, reporting on a 2014 experiment in an Albuquerque, NM, lab in which 10 monkeys sat in airtight chambers for four hours as fumes from a diesel Volkswagen Beetle were piped in, all as cartoons played for entertainment.

It was supposed to provide ammunition against a 2012 classification by the WHO that diesel exhaust is a carcinogen, but the results were both "deliberately manipulated" and inconclusive. Over the weekend came the news that the tests didn't stop at monkeys. German newspapers reported 25 adults were exposed to fumes over a number of hours as part of a look at "short-term nitrogen dioxide inhalation by healthy people," per Deutsche Welle, which reports the subjects were examined by Germany's Aachen University Hospital. Daimler on Sunday said it is "appalled," per the BBC, and a rep for Angela Merkel said the tests "cannot be justified ethically in any way." The hospital noted in a statement that the study "served to optimize job security, for example for truck drivers, vehicle mechanics, and welders," Deutsche Welle reports. (Read more diesel stories.)

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