Some weeks ago we posted an article about a German university comparing the fumes produced from both a diesel-powered engine and one fuelled by Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) which showed that diesel fumes were more dangerous. In the end, however, the study affirmed that it depended more on the engine tuning than the fuel itself.
Nevertheless, a new study shows that that diesel exhaust is far more damaging to our health than exhaust from biodiesel. The research, made by a team from Deakin University's Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and at the Institute of Sustainability and Innovation, Victoria University (Australia), exposed cultured human airway cells to both fumes and studied the effects.
The worst effect came from the particullates that diesels emit. Whereas biodiesel also produces particullates, the latter were less dangerous. According to Prof. Leigh Ackland, head of the study, "Our research found that the particulate matter from diesel exhaust stimulated a 'death pathway' response that the body uses to dispose of damaged cells. This response caused the airway cells to fuse together and die. We saw hardly any cell death after treatment with biodiesel particulates"
Then she concludes: "It is clear that breathing in diesel fumes is going to have a far more detrimental effect on our health than biodiesel. Given the level of cell death we have found, diesel exhaust could be the cause of respiratory disorders such as asthma and could even be implicated in cancer."
[Source: Nature via Biopact, thanks to William for the tip]