The World Health Organization has determined that diesel exhaust fumes are a public health threat because they can cause cancer.
The organization said that diesel emissions are now classified as a carcinogen, their status being raised from that of “probable.”
The New Jersey Clean Cities Coalition believes the decision was overdue. Member Chuck Feinberg said, according to NorthJersey.com, “It’s been well known in urban areas that diesel exhaust is harmful to people’s health. It creates cancer to the increased prevalence of asthma in children.”
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was in agreement. Manager Peg Hanna said, “Our analysis of federal Environmental Protection Agency data show that diesel emissions cause the greatest cancer risk of all air toxics in New Jersey.”
A panel discussion in France by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the WHO, came up with the ruling. According to USA Today, their decision was based highly on a study from the U.S. National Cancer Institute that determined miners who were heavily exposed to diesel exhaust had a higher risk of lung cancer death.
Reuters reported that diesel exhaust was now in the same risk classification as asbestos, arsenic, mustard gas, alcohol and tobacco. A General Motors statement said today’s diesel engines have lower sulfur content and emit much less particulate matter than those of a few years ago.
GM said: "We will continue with our plans to introduce new fuel saving technologies and engines that run on alternate fuels, including diesel."
Clean Air Task Force data says cancer risk from diesel exhaust for residents of Hudson County is 1 in 1,977, which is 506 times greater than the EPA acceptable cancer level of 1 in a million. Hudson ranks as 7th worst county level in the nation, followed by Bergen County at No. 71, and Passaic at 74.