The World Health Organization (WHO) has, following research from a panel of experts, confirmed that exhaust fumes definitely increase the risk of lung cancer and may also cause bladder cancer. The panel recommend that everyone should aim to reduce their exposure to exhaust fumes, particularly diesel fumes.
Following the research, diesel exhausts have been reclassified from ‘probably carcinogenic’ to ‘a definite cause of cancer’. People regularly working around exhaust fumes, such as those working in underground mines, are thought to have a 40% greater risk of developing lung cancer than those who are not in at-risk industries. It was also found that the same groups have an increased risk of bladder cancer, albeit with limited evidence.
WHO is now encouraging governments to consider environmental standards for diesel exhaust emissions as it is not only through cars that people are exposed to these fumes, but through diesel trains, diesel ships, and power generators for example. With new technology the levels of particulates and chemicals in exhausts have successfully been reduced but regulatory measures to track the impact of diesel fumes themselves need to be more stringent.
Dr Christopher Portier, Chairman of the International Agency for Research on Cancer stated that: “Given the additional health impacts from diesel particulates, exposure to this mixture of chemicals should be reduced worldwide.”
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