Tuesday, June 12, 2012
The World Health Organization's cancer agency has determined that diesel exhaust causes cancer.
It's raised the status of diesel exhaust from "probable carcinogen" to carcinogen. That puts it in the same category as other known hazards such as asbestos, alcohol and ultraviolet radiation.
The new classification follows a weeklong discussion in France by an expert panel organized by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the WHO's cancer arm. The experts analyzed published studies, evidence from animals and limited research in humans.
The science panel says the risk of getting cancer from diesel fumes is small, but since so many people breathe in the fumes in some way, there could be many cases of lung cancer connected to it.
The U.S. government still classifies diesel exhaust as a likely carcinogen. Experts say new diesel engines spew out fewer fumes but further studies are needed to assess any potential dangers.