SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Health Impacts of Diesel Pollution
Diesel pollution contains 40 of the toxics monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for air quality. It is a mixture of black carbon, toxic gases, and tiny particles, that when inhaled can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat as well as increases in asthma attacks, heart disease, lung disease, and other respiratory illnesses. Recent studies have now determined a link between particulate matter exposure and adult diabetes. Exposure to diesel pollution can also be attributed to an increased risk for cancer and premature death. In fact, according to the California Air Resources Board , “Diesel emissions are the #1 air toxics cancer risk in the United States.”
Everyone’s exposure to diesel pollution is different. However, certain populations suffer greater health risks and impacts. Those vulnerable populations include children, the elderly, as well as people already living with respiratory and heart illnesses. Exposure to diesel pollution is cumulative: the more we are exposed throughout our lifetimes, the higher our risks. It is never too late to prevent further exposure and reduce risks.
People working in industries that employ diesel engines, such as truckers, construction workers, railway workers and port workers are exposed to higher concentrations of diesel pollution and therefore experience higher risks for potential health problems. The health implications related to diesel pollution are a significant public health concern and must be addressed. The Clean Air Task Force has compiled a summary of occupational hazards of diesel pollution.
Use the Clean Air Task Force’s Diesel Soot Health Impacts Tool to find the health impacts in your city.
Reports from Clean Air Task Force:
Health Impacts of Diesel, Based on Data from the National Scale Air Toxics Assessment (NATA)
For a comprehensive list of reports by CATF, visit the Diesel Clean Up Campaign website.
Diesel Exhaust in the United States (PDF) U.S EPA