On June 10, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released the 12th Report on Carcinogens. The Report on Carcinogens, mandated by Congress, is a science-based, public health document prepared by the National Toxicology Program which identifies substances which are known or reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in people. The 12th Report on Carcinogenshas reaffirmed that exposure to diesel exhaust causes cancer. In the majority of studies reviewed, occupational exposure to diesel exhaust particulates was associated with a greater risk for lung cancer. People exposed to diesel exhaust for long periods of time may be at a greater risk for cancer then those exposed for a brief time period. This Report concludes that “exposure to diesel exhaust particulates is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

The Report observes that diesel exhaust particles are linked to lung cancer, because they are small enough to penetrate into the lining of the lungs and they include harmful chemicals. Diesel exhaust is a complex mixture of combustion products of diesel fuel. Diesel exhaust exposure is often found in railroad work, on-road vehicles, oil and gas production sites, repair yards, stationary engines, and more.

Diesel exhaust particulate was first listed in the 9th Report on Carcinogens, published in 2000. Since that time, several new studies have confirmed its role in causing cancer. Numerous studies, including studies specific to railroad workers, have found an increased risk of cancer in diesel exposed groups and found higher levels of cancer in more heavily exposed groups. Occupational exposure to diesel exhaust has also bee studied among railroad workers, mine workers, trucking-company workers, toll-booth workers, and firefighters. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health estimated that about 1.35 million workers have been exposed to diesel exhaust particulates in 80,000 U.S. workplaces. By 1959, almost all railroads in the U.S. had switched to diesel engines; therefore, railroad workers’ potential for exposure has increased. Diesel engines are still widely used today.

If you, or someone you know, has been impacted from occupational exposure of diesel exhaust particulates, call Doran & Murphy at 1-800-374-2144, or contact us through email.

Source: Congressional Report on Carcinogens (2011) – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services