The results of a new study indicate that diesel engine exhaust is linked to increased risk of dying from lung cancer.
The Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study found that long term exposure to diesel exhaust – even if only at low levels – increases one’s risk of succumbing to lung cancer.
The study involved following 12,315 miners working in eight underground nonmetal mining facilities. Researchers collected information regarding the health of the miners, including exposure to various elements and chemicals dating back to the time that diesel-powered equipment was first introduced by the company (from 1947 to 1967), until the end of the study in 1997.
An analysis of the data indicated that workers exposed to elemental carbon, a marker used for exposure to diesel exhaust, had a higher risk of lung cancer. In addition, it was determined that miners who had the highest levels of exposure to elemental carbon were three times more likely to develop lung cancer, when compared against those who had the lowest levels of exposure.
Exposure to other agents, such as silica, asbestos, dust, and radon, had a smaller effect on developing lung cancer, as opposed to the effect of elemental carbon.
Miners who developed lung cancer, and who also had the highest levels of exposure to diesel exhaust, were more likely to succumb to the disease. But even miners who had lower levels of exposure to diesel exhaust had a 50 percent increased risk of developing lung cancer.