14 June 2012
Diesel exhaust fumes have been declared a carcinogen by the World Health Organization following a meeting of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The IARC, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans after the week-long meeting in France, finding sufficient evidence that exposure to diesel exhaust is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer. There was also limited evidence that diesel exhaust fumes cause bladder cancer.
This classification upgrades the previous status of diesel exhaust, which in 1988 was labelled by the IARC as ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’.
The reclassification was based on scientific evidence from several studies, including a large US study that showed an increased risk of death from lung cancer among underground mine workers who were exposed to diesel exhaust.
The IARC noted that large populations are exposed to diesel fumes in everyday life, whether through their occupation or through the ambient air. People are exposed to diesel fumes not only from motor vehicle exhausts, but also from other modes of transport, such as diesel trains and ships, and from power generators.
Last Reviewed: 14 June 2012