TORONTO—Exhaust from diesel engines is now officially considered a cause of cancer in humans.
The Toronto-based Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC) issued a bulletin today saying “compelling evidence” has been found by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that diesel exhaust exposure causes lung cancer and increases the risk of the development of bladder cancer. The IARC published its findings last June.
“The main studies that led to this conclusion were in highly exposed workers,” said Dr. Kurt Straif back in June when the IARC released its findings.
“However we have learned form other carcinogens, such as radon, that initial studies showing a risk in heavily exposed occupational groups were followed by positive findings for the general population. Therefore actions to reduce exposures should encompass workers and the general population.”
In Canada, about 804,000 workers face exposure to diesel exhaust at work each year, according to Carex Canada, an agency that monitors carcinogens.
About 303,000 truck drivers, 78,000 bus drives and 77,0000 heavy machine operators are exposed each year. Other affected groups include couriers, landscaping labourers, taxi drivers and auto repair workers.
Repeated exposure to diesel exhaust particles can also cause chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.