Updated Health Alert on Diesel Exhaust Fumes
Update from Noel Arnold
On 12th June 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation (WHO), classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans.
The classification was based on sufficient evidence that exposure to diesel fumes is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer. The revised classification comes after a thorough review of scientific evidence and a week-long meeting of international experts in France earlier this month.
IARC had previously (1998) classified diesel exhaust as probably carcinogenic to humans. However, there has been mounting concern about the cancer-causing potential of diesel exhaust which led to the re-evaluation of the health effects of exposure to diesel emissions.
IARC found that diesel exhaust is a cause of lung cancer (sufficient evidence) and also noted a positive association (limited evidence) with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
The revised classification places diesel exhaust in the same category as other known carcinogens such as asbestos, tobacco smoke and UV radiation and has significant public and occupational health implications.
What is Diesel Engine Exhaust?
Diesel engine exhaust is a complex mixture of airborne particles and gases. Diesel particulate matter (DPM) is the particulate component of diesel exhaust, which includes diesel, soot and aerosol particulates.