Diesel exhaust fumes can be carcinogenic, says the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO also says diesel fumes are in the same risk group that includes asbestos, alcohol, tobacco and arsenic.
According to the France-based international agency for research on cancer (IARC) which is part of WHO, diesel fumes have been reclassified from group 2A to group 1 of substances. The expert group, based on ‘compelling’ scientific evidence has stated that diesel exhaust is a cause of lung cancer and positive association with increased risk of bladder cancer. The decision to reclassify diesel exhaust in risk group 1 was unanimously taken as a result of a week-long meeting of independent experts who were involved in assessing whether diesel and gasoline exhausts cause cancer.
The expert group’s conclusion was unanimous and that diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans,” Christopher Portier, chairman of the IARC working group was quoted as saying by Reuters. He added that given the additional impacts from diesel particulates, exposure to this mixture of chemicals should be reduced worldwide. IARC insists that the emphasize on reducing diesel consumption is needed globally including developing countries which take many years to adopt advanced technology and emission protective measures.
The auto industry defends its diesel technology stating that by using ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel new engines emit only trace emissions for particulate matter, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. But the IARC said it was not yet clear how the advances in technology which has reduced particulate matter might translate into health effects. IARC added that the current quality of fuels (diesel) may take many years to be replaced with new fuels (ultra-low sulphur diesel) especially in developing countries where emission laws are also less stringent.
Globally, Europe and India are the only markets which use diesel extensively for both personal and commercial purposes while in rest of the world; nearly most of the diesel consumption is only from the commercial sector. CarToq had reported on the environment-friendliness of fuels a while ago, where it was stated that by using low-sulphur ‘city diesel’, emissions of a diesel car can be reduced by about 20 – 30 per cent when compared with petrol car. And as diesel cars are more fuel efficient than their petrol counterparts, they pollute less. Also read: Which is more environment friendly fuel petrol or diesel