WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- On June 12th, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that diesel exhaust is carcinogenic to humans. The evidence showed an increased risk for lung cancer due to particulates and chemicals from the exhaust.
Exposure to diesel exhaust affects the body in several ways. The particulates and chemicals in the exhaust can damage DNA and cause mutations; it can trigger an inflammatory response in the body and indirectly damage DNA; and it can cause cells to proliferate faster than normal. These factors can then lead to the development of cancer in the body.
Many people are exposed to diesel in their everyday lives, but some are also exposed at their workplace. Those who hold a job such as a truck driver, vehicle mechanic or railroad worker could be at a higher risk.
Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the WHO, provided suggestions for how to lower your exposure.
First, improve the ventilation in your work space. Second, make sure that vehicles are maintained properly, so the exhaust is kept at a regular level. Third, limit the number of engines in the same space. And fourth, switch off engines while they are not in use to avoid unnecessary fumes.
Wild urges government regulating agencies to evaluate this evidence and consider enforcing new policies to protect the general public from exhaust exposure.