A Reevaluation of the Literature Regarding the Health Assessment of Diesel Engine Exhaust
Source: Inhalation Toxicology, Volume 16, Number 14, December 2004 , pp. 889-900(12)
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
Abstract:While the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified diesel exhaust (DE) as a“probable”carcinogen in 1989 based primarily on“sufficient”animal data, other investigators have since concluded that the lung tumors found in the rat studies were a result of particle overloading. Subsequent health risk assessments of DE have not used the rat cancer data. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in developing its 2002 Health Assessment Document (HAD) for DE, primarily considered the epidemiology studies of railroad workers and truck drivers to develop health risk assessments of DE. However, both sets of epidemiology studies have serious weaknesses that make them unsuitable for cancer risk assessment. Major shortcomings were the lack of contemporaneous measurements of exposures to DE, difficulties with exposure history reconstruction, and adequately accounting for other exposures such as gasoline exhaust and cigarette smoke. To compound these problems, there was not, and there is still not, a specific exposure marker for DE. Interestingly, in the underground mining industry, where diesel exposures are much higher than observed in railroad workers and truck drivers, there was no increase in lung cancer. These problems and concerns led the U.S. EPA to conclude that while DE was a“likely”carcinogen, a unit risk value or range of risk cannot be calculated from existing data and that the risk could be zero. In addition, the DE emissions have changed and continue to change with the implementation of new emission control technologies. The HAD recognized this fact and noted that further studies are needed to assess new diesel engine emissions. Recent chemical characterization studies on low-emitting diesel engines with catalyzed particulate filters have shown emissions rates for several chemicals of concern that are even lower than comparable compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled engines. With lower emissions, better fire safety, and improved cost-effectiveness of new low-emitting diesels compared to CNG, current efforts to restrict use of low-emitting diesels seems misguided.
Document Type: Research article
Affiliations: 1: International Truck and Engine Corporation, Warrenville, Illinois, USA 2: Gradient Corporation, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA 3: ScienceWriter International, Englewood, Colorado, USA 4: , Glendale, California, USA
Publication date: 2004-12-01