Volkswagen Group have become closely associated with the recent emissions scandal which relates to excessive emissions of nitrogen oxides from diesel fuelled cars. To date they are the only vehicle maker known to have actively cheated legally binding emissions tests. However, as more tests are done on cars by almost all makers, more and more highly polluting vehicles have been uncovered. The current situation is that most diesel cars on the road emit far more toxic air pollution than manufacturers stated in vehicle specifications.
Most car makers produced vehicles which passed the legally binding laboratory emissions tests and then failed to maintain clean performance as they aged. Volkswagen Group produced vehicles that passed the laboratory emissions tests by using exhaust treatment systems which were then deliberately switched off on the road - mainly to slightly improve the performance of the cars and reduce running costs. The scandal has done perhaps irreparable damage to the Volkswagen brand. It could be argued that the once powerful Volkswagen brand - associated with prestigious, reliable and desirable motor vehicles - is now more closely associated with cheating, environmental damage and corporate malpractice.
My initial research on the topic of air pollution coincided closely with the breaking story of the Volkswagen emissions scandal in late 2015, this meant that there was a wealth of material in traditional news channels. As Volkswagen were the only manufacturers to actively cheat emissions testing, I explored public perception of air pollution by soiling baby clothes with diesel exhaust emissions from Volkswagen Group cars. Vinyl cut outs of the Volkswagen Group logos were applied to baby grows which were then held under running exhausts of vehicles to deliberately expose the clothing to traffic pollution. Children are more susceptible to the health effects of air pollution due to their height and faster metabolism and by using white baby clothes, the message becomes more emotive.