To mark Earth Day 2016, an annual event every April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection, Dr. Graham is sharing her story – and Volkswagen credit – with the BC Lung Association.
Dr. Mary Graham is using her credit from Volkswagen to support air quality and health initiatives.
Thousands of vehicle owners in Canada are caught up in the Volkswagen emissions scandal, including Dr. Mary Graham, whose late-model station wagon emits far more pollutants than advertised.
Feeling betrayed as a consumer, Graham is now putting her trust in a different vehicle—the BC Lung Association. The West Vancouver resident is donating her $500 compensation credit from the automaker to support the association’s air quality and lung health initiatives.
“The car I bought doesn’t live up to its low emission claims, and potentially harms young children, particularly those with lung disease. It therefore seems reasonable to take the little bit of compensation money Volkswagen gave me and give it to somebody who can use it to help kids with lung disease,” said Dr. Graham, a retired Lions Gate Hospital radiologist.
Last fall the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed Volkswagen had equipped its diesel engine vehicles with a device to cheat emissions tests. The agency found the vehicles spewed nitrogen oxide pollutants that greatly exceed standards.
In an effort to clear the air, the automaker has offered a credit package to Canadian owners of affected vehicles—a credit card loaded with $500, a further $500 for use at Volkswagen dealerships and three years of roadside assistance.
Dr. Graham said she bought her 2011 Golf TDI expecting it to produce fewer harmful emissions than other vehicles, and was appalled to learn she was a victim of Volkswagen’s diesel dupe.
“I bought the car trusting Volkswagen,” she said. “They sold it as being as good as buying a hybrid, which is what I had before, in terms of emissions.”
Dr. Graham is urging others to follow her lead and donate what they can to the BC Lung Association.
“People who are really annoyed and want to give back to make up for this—even though it wasn’t their fault—I’d encourage them to do it, ” continued Graham.
“We’re very grateful for Dr. Graham’s support – and for drawing attention to very real concerns regarding the impact of air pollution on public health,” said Dr. Peter Paré, Chair of the BC Lung Association.
“There’s growing evidence linking vehicle traffic-related pollution exposure to cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological health problems,” he continued. “It is becoming clearer, for example, that those who grow up and live near high-traffic areas over extended periods suffer a variety of health problems more frequently.”
A recent study by researchers at University of B.C. and Vancouver Coastal Health found just two hours of exposure to diesel exhaust can lead to changes in the body by switching some genes on and others off, showing how vulnerable our bodies can be to air pollution—even in the absence of obvious symptoms.