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German vehicle maker experiment forced monkeys to breath diesel fumes

German vehicle maker experiment forced monkeys to breath diesel fumes

But the paper alleges that the European automakers built their diesel cars to pas emissions tests - but produce more pollution when on the road.

Germany's largest car-manufacturing group funded scientific experiments on people testing nitrogen dioxide, a gas found in exhaust fumes, according to local media.

The Lovelace tests used a 2014 Beetle TDI to test the toxicity of diesel exhaust fumes on lab monkeys.

The human trials involved 25 healthy people.

Acting federal environment minister Barbara Hendricks said later on Monday she was "horrified" by tests she described as "disgusting".

"We're convinced the scientific methods chosen then were wrong".

The story, citing annual reports from the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, or EUGT, which closed a year ago, followed a New York Times report earlier that the organization also conducted tests using monkeys.

Angela Merkel's government has called a meeting with the affected auto companies to ask them to explain themselves.

Daimler AG said it was "appalled by the nature and extent of the studies" and said that, though it did not have any influence on the studies' design, "we have launched a comprehensive investigation into the matter".

"We apologize for the misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals", says Volkswagen. The lobby group was funded jointly by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, though the latter two companies are attempting to distance themselves from the study, with Daimler going as far as launching an inquiry into the research methods employed.

It remains unclear whether the carmakers were aware of monkeys being used in the experiments.

In a second round of tests, the animals were forced to breathe in the fumes of a Ford F-250 used for the purposes of comparison, because the vehicle was an older model with apparently less sophisticated filter technology.

According to the reports, the ethics committee at Aachen University Hospital permitted the tests under occupational doctor Prof Thomas Kraus. Human subjects were exposed to nitrogen dioxide, a major byproduct of burning fuel.

The human experiments appear to have been conducted between 2012 and 2015 and there were no reports of subsequent injuries related to them.

The test result stands in contrast to long-term medical studies drawing a link between nitrogen-dioxide and breathing problems, particularly among the young, the elderly and asthmatics.

"The outrage felt by many is absolutely understandable, " he added.

Another member of VW's supervisory board, Bernd Althusmann, representing the carmaker's home state of Lower Saxony, told the German DPA news agency such experiments were "absurd and inexcusable" and he demanded "harsh consequences" for whoever was responsible for the study.

"Everything must be done now to establish under whose orders and when these tests were carried out", said Mr Weill, who is on the supervisory board.

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