ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH: Federal Report Links Diesel Exhaust To Cancer
"[T]he Clinton administration has quietly issued a draft report linking diesel exhaust to lung cancer and other respiratory ailments," the Los Angeles Times reports. The report is expected to lend "federal weight to a controversy already rolling down California's freeways," the Times reports, with the state expected to recommend later this month "that the exhaust be listed as a carcinogen." The two studies are expected to "add fuel to the debate over whether emissions from trucks, buses, diesel-powered cars and locomotives should be further restricted." According to the Times, "[q]uestions about diesel exhaust's contribution to cancer and respiratory disease have consumed California air quality officials for years," but business groups complain that eliminating diesel would be highly disruptive to the state's economy.
The federal report said: "It is clear that too much exposure (to diesel exhaust) increases the likelihood of non-cancer respiratory system damage or the risk of lung cancer, and thus we say diesel exhaust at some level of chronic exposure poses a respiratory hazard for humans." The report also found that as a result of lifetime exposure to diesel fumes, "basic respiratory functions can be impaired, and there is a probability ... that lung tumors may appear later in life." The report also said that young children who had "episodic or frequent exposure" to diesel exhaust could have increased "susceptibility to such diseases" (Gerstenzang/Cone, 4/10).