A Source for Workplace Safety News and Notes - from ®

July 21, 2012

Diesel Exhaust Classified as Carcinogenic

OSHA Fume Caution signIn June, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), announcing, "The scientific evidence was compelling and the Working Group's conclusion was unanimous: diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans."

This follows a NIOSH announcement in March that showed underground miners exposed to diesel emissions showed an increased risk of death from lung cancer in exposed workers.

People working where diesel engines are running indoors or in enclosed spaces, such as bridges and tunnels, engine maintenance garages, bus barns, underground mines and fire stations, have some of the highest exposures to the exhaust and are at increased risk for illness. Other workers at high risk for diesel exhaust exposure include:
  • Toll booth workers Respirator safety sign
  • Operators of diesel powered engines (such as in trains, trucks, buses, tractors, and forklifts)
  • Mechanics
  • Roadside inspection workers
  • Loading/shipping dock workers
  • Truck drivers
  • Farm workers
  • Railroad workers
  • Ship crew members
By law, employers must provide a safe and healthy workplace. Employers should assess the risks to the health of workers exposed to diesel exhaust and take precautions to prevent or reduce the amount that workers breathe. Several publications are available with additional information.

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