Low and moderate exposure to diesel engine exhaust may increase risk of lung cancer, according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
While past studies have consistently found a correlation, the relationship between exposure levels and cancer risk is not yet understood, in part because it is difficult to isolate the effects of diesel exhaust from those of other factors, such as smoking, weight, and other occupational hazards; the new research attempts to adjust for these. The study focused on a large sample of miners, but researchers claim their results have implications for city dwellers worldwide: cumulative exposure levels in Los Angeles, the Bronx, and many other cities match those of the “low-to-moderate range” for miners—levels associated with a 50 percent increase in lung cancer risk.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified diesel engine exhaust as a probable human carcinogen since 1989.
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