European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

Accueil > Topics > Health & Safety - working conditions > News list > Diesel exhaust fumes cause lung cancer, WHO says

News list

28 June 2012

Diesel exhaust fumes cause lung cancer, WHO says

Diesel engine fumes can cause lung cancer and belong in the same potentially deadly category as asbestos, arsenic and mustard gas, World Health Organisation (WHO) experts said.On 12 June 2012, the France-based 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.

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.IARC said large populations all over the world are exposed to diesel exhaust every day. "People are exposed not only to motor vehicle exhausts but also to exhausts from other diesel engines...(such as diesel trains and ships) and from power generators," it said.

In March 2012, a study carried out in the US mining sector found that the most heavily exposed miners to diesel exhaust had three times the risk of death from lung cancer compared to workers with the lowest exposures.

In 1999, about 3 millions workers from 19 European countries were exposed to diesel engine exhaust, according to CAREX, a database which contains estimates of the numbers of workers occupationally exposed to carcinogens in Europe.

Sources: Reuters, IARC, CAREX
All news