In the forest industry we are exposed to the exhaust from diesel engines on a regular basis. There is increased concern that this exhaust causes lung cancer and should be avoided. A recent study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer “classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans, based on sufficient evidence that exposure is associated with an increased risk for lung cancer.”
Diesel exhaust contains a mixture of different gases and particles. Some of the gases include nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and carbon monoxide which are all harmful. The particles include metals like nickel and arsenic which are known to cause cancer. Diesel exhaust contains 20 times more particles than gasoline exhaust and these particles are small enough that they can be directly inhaled into the lungs.