The World Health Organization declared this past Tuesday that diesel fumes cause lung cancer. Experts report these fumes are more carcinogenic than secondhand cigarette smoke. Diesel fumes are now officially added to the list of Group 1 Carcinogens. This group is the listing of carcinogens known to cause cancer in humans. Among this list arsenic, neutron radiation, being a painter and strontium 90 are all included as well. These are all worse than secondhand cigarette smoke for an idea of what Group 1 Carcinogens might look like. Of course one of the most surprising substances on this list was alcoholic beverages. The cancer society is expected to be in agreement with the World Health Organization over their findings, although their confirmation will not become official until after their next scientific committee meeting.
While this is ominous news and can certainly be concerning for the amount of diesel engine vehicles being produced, The World Health Organization is clear that the real concern is if your job or environment places you in direct long-term diesel exhaust. Toll workers were mentioned among those who may be at risk. Miners are also listed. A study of miners who were subjected to diesel fumes for years had a lung cancer risk seven times the amount of risk than nonsmokers.
While owning a diesel powered vehicle is not considered unsafe, breathing the fumes from the exhaust is. Cancer Society Director, Dr. Otis W. Brawley comments, “I don’t think it’s bad to have a diesel car. I don’t think it’s good to breathe its exhaust. I’m not concerned about people who walk past a diesel vehicle, I’m a little concerned about people like toll collectors, and I’m very concerned about people like miners, who work where exhaust is concentrated.”
The Diesel Technology Forum represents automakers and other manufacturers that use or produce diesel engines. They wanted it to be clear on any rulings that the modern diesel engines being used in America and other wealthy countries burn low sulfur fuel. That means the new cars and trucks equipped with diesel engines emit 98% less particulates and 99% less nitrogen oxide. Both of these add to ozone buildup, but with the decreased levels, it does make them somewhat safer.
Source New York Times