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The World Health Organization today released the results of a study purporting to prove that diesel exhaust causes cancer.
The study focused on mine workers and others exposed to heavy concentrations of diesel fumes and rated the risk as greater than that of exposure to second hand smoke but less than smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.
The diesel technology forum was quick to respond, saying that today’s diesel engines produce 98 percent fewer exhaust emissions than engines of just a decade ago.
But what remains to be seen is if diesel exhaust in concentrations experienced by heavy equipment operators, truck drivers and ordinary citizens in the U.S. and developed world others is also carcenogenic. These groups have never been studied, and air quality advocates have used flimsy science to justify the legislation that created Tier 4 off road engines, EGR, SCR and the whole complicated set of contraptions that govern emissions in today’s engines.
We have not seen the actual science in this report other than the abstract, which didn’t mention what country these miners were from and when the exposure took place. The New York Times has only the WHO’s propaganda. So it remains to be seen if this research is a valid assesment of risks in the U.S. But the U.S. media will probably play it as such.
The danger for the construction and trucking industries is that the WHO and the EPA may use this example of extreme exposures to diesel exhaust to browbeat government into further restrictions on all uses of diesel engines. It’s been long suspected that the environmentalists aren’t so concerned about the health of our lungs or our planet as they are about turning back the clock on industrial civilization. And this latest report would only give those in this cabal more ammunition.
What few honest environmental scientists are left today have a great saying: “Dilution is the solution to pollution.” Another one is: “The dose makes the poison.” Every person alive has traces of arsenic in their blood. It just has to reach a certain concentration before it becomes deadly. Same with diesel exhaust or any chemical.
Before the environmental lobby gets too puffed up over this issue they should commission a study that looks at the lung health and cancer rates of construction workers and truckers in the U.S. And if these groups have higher incidents of cancer than others then let’s extrapolate their total lifetime exposure to what workers today will be exposed to with the new emissions compliant engines.
The reason they haven’t yet, I suspect, is that they wouldn’t like the results.