WHO Says Diesel Fumes As Carcinogenic As Asbestos

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the WHO, reclassified diesel exhausts from its group 2A of probable carcinogens to its group 1 of substances that have definite links to cancer.

The experts, who said their decision was unanimous and based on “compelling” scientific evidence, urged people worldwide to reduce their exposure to diesel fumes as much as possible.

“The working group found that diesel exhaust is a cause of lung cancer and also noted a positive association with an increased risk of bladder cancer,” IARC said in a statement.

The decision was the result of a week-long meeting of independent experts who assessed the latest scientific evidence on the cancer-causing potential of diesel and gasoline exhausts.

It puts diesel exhaust fumes in the same risk category as a number of other noxious substances including asbestos, arsenic, mustard gas, alcohol and tobacco.

Christopher Portier, chairman of the IARC working group, said the group’s conclusion “was unanimous, that diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans”.

“Given the additional health impacts from diesel particulates, exposure to this mixture of chemicals should be reduced worldwide,” he said in a statement.

Source: Reuters News 12 June 2012

Interestingly, I note later in the piece that petrol exhaust fumes have remained at the ‘probably cause cancer’ stage.

PS: I just found a list of all the 107 human carcinogens – makes interesting reading! Click here for them by group – 1 is the most carcinogenic – and here by cancer site.

One Reply to “WHO Says Diesel Fumes As Carcinogenic As Asbestos”

  1. Update:

    “The report by WHO on diesel causing cancer merits serious attention & action by UK manufacturers, employees & regulators. Those working in environments where significant diesel fume levels may be present should be concerned. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) ranked diesel as the 6th most important workplace carcinogen (cancer-causer.) It’s established that lung & bladder cancer deaths are caused each year from work exposure to diesel fumes, with over 100,000 UK people exposed to diesel fumes at work. It’s to be hoped that the HSE will now quickly produce new info leaflets on diesel & increase its activity on prevention & exposure. The Industrial Injuries Advisory Committee should recommend listing lung cancer from diesel fumes as an industrial disease.”
    Prof Andrew Watterson, Occupational & Environmental Health Research Group, Stirling University.

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