People exposed to heavy diesel exhaust are more likely to die of lung cancer than the general population, new research finds.
Scientists, reporting in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, said two new studies have linked diesel fumes to a greater risk of developing lung cancer and death in miners.
In 1989, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified diesel exhaust as a probable carcinogen, based on a series of studies in the 1980s. To determine if diesel exhaust raised the risk of dying from lung cancer, researchers -- led by Michael D. Attfield, formerly of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and Debra T. Silverman of the National Cancer Institute tracked the health of thousands of miners.
The first study – involving 12,315 workers in eight underground nonmetal mining facilities over a period of decades – found a greatly increased lung cancer risk among those exposed to higher levels of diesel fumes. The second, examining lung cancer deaths among 198 of those workers, found a “statistically significantly increased risk of lung cancer mortality with increasing levels of exposure” to diesel.
"Our findings are important not only for miners but also for the 1.4 million American workers and the 3 million European workers exposed to diesel exhaust and for urban populations worldwide," said Silverman.