As if it wasn't clear from the bouts of coughing that sometimes happen when a truck goes by, diesel fumes are not good for people. After reviewing various studies, including one from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the World Health Organization has officially linked diesel exhaust to cancer, specifically lung and bladder cancers.

In "Diesel Engine Exhaust Carcinogenic" (PDF), the IARC says that "there has been mounting concern about the cancer-causing potential of diesel exhaust" and that it "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 IARC has considered diesel exhaust "probably carcinogenic to humans" since 1988, but hasn't been able to more concretely study the issue until now. Given that "large populations are exposed to diesel exhaust in everyday life, whether through their occupation or through the ambient air," it's been a long 24 years waiting.

In that time, new diesel engines have gotten cleaner, to which the IARC says:

Increasing environmental concerns over the past two decades have resulted in regulatory action in North America, Europe and elsewhere with successively tighter emission standards for both diesel and gasoline engines. There is a strong interplay between standards and technology – standards drive technology and new technology enables more stringent standards. For diesel engines, this required changes in the fuel such as marked decreases in sulfur content, changes in engine design to burn diesel fuel more efficiently and reductions in emissions through exhaust control technology.

However, while the amount of particulates and chemicals are reduced with these changes, it is not yet clear how the quantitative and qualitative changes may translate into altered health effects ... In addition, existing fuels and vehicles without these modifications will take many years to be replaced, particularly in less developed countries

What about diesel's petroleum cousin, gasoline? As it has since 1988, the IARC still says gasoline engine fumes are "possibly carcinogenic."

It's not just exhaust fumes that are likely hurting us. A new report from the journal Environmental Science & Technology says that brake dust, tire fragments and even tiny bits of road can get into the air and that "these non-exhaust emissions make up a similar proportion of the airborne particulate matter (PM) resulting from vehicle use as exhaust emissions." It's messy out there.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Was this research done in California ? The State of California finds that everything in California causes cancer. Thats why I dont want to live there.
        • 2 Years Ago
        Just ONE of the reasons I do not want to live in California....
      Dave D
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, you don't say! LOL Yeah, and the sky is blue and water is wet. Tell us something we didn't already know. :-)
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is no big surprise to me since I am allergic to inhalents and diesel OR gasoline fumes make me actually sick, sore throat, coughing and major congestion after a day or two - I always thought it was a problem (these fumes) and was laughed at by MEN who think I'm nuts - give me a break - basic feminine logic always wins out !
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Tire dust is also bad for you. The smaller, the lighter the vehicle, the better these numbers look. Oh, then there's the whole energy consumption issue, I won't even get into that.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      good thing noone in the world is making light and aerodynamic electric cars then. that would just be crazy
      • 3 Years Ago
      Forty years ago at the railroad they told us there was absolutely no danger from the diesel locomotives-God love '
      • 3 Years Ago
      Lets simplify this list....WHAT does not cause cancer today?
      • 3 Years Ago
      How many times is Huff Po going to recyce this "news?" This must be the fourth time in the last two weeks. They also leave out that gasoline exhaust is also carcinogenic and worse for people than diesel exhaust. Diesel particulate is large, that's why you could see the soot. As such it doesn't penetrate the lungs as deeply and its easier for the lungs to "sweep" it out. Gasoline exhaust has microscopic particulate that penetrates much more deeply into the lungs and is much harder for the lungs to remove.
      • 3 Years Ago
      diesel fuel is necessary to exist and the draw back is cancer, but why do we still sell cigarettes?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well I have been driving 30 yrs and haven't died yet, You don't see a picture of any locomotives or jetliners on here do you, They all run on diesel just watch the trains when they take off big big cloud of BLACK smoke and of course there not going to say anything about the jets, They both use worst diesel then trucks Let the government haul all your shi- and see if you get it on time.
      • 3 Years Ago
      But gas fumes are ok?
      • 3 Years Ago
      Another crok of shhh. Now they have spent three times as much making precious metal contraptions and a urea wasting joke to pretend its helping .Now we burn more diesel per mile just to satisfy a stat. crock o shh..
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