Diesel fumes cause lung cancer, the World Health Organization declared Tuesday, and experts said they were more carcinogenic than secondhand cigarette smoke.
The WHO decision, the first to elevate diesel to the “known carcinogen” level, may eventually affect some U.S. workers who are heavily exposed to exhaust. It is particularly relevant to poor countries, where trucks, generators, and farm and factory machinery routinely belch clouds of sooty smoke and fill the air with sulfurous particulates.
Diesel engines power commerce and transportation around the world, but the exhaust they produce can prove deadly. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Tuesday that it now classifies diesel exhaust as a cause of cancer. While major advances in technology have helped clean up some diesel pollution in the United States, the findings could have serious implications for developing countries still relying on dirty diesel power.