According to an article in the CCOHS Health and Safety Report (Volume 10, Issue 6), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), determining that exposure to diesel exhaust emissions increases the risk for lung cancer and possibly bladder cancer.
If exposure cannot be eliminated by using safer alternative fuels (e.g. natural gas or electricity), using a combination of control measures will reduce risk:
- Consider changing to reformulated diesel, or biodiesel fuel to reduce emissions, or switching to low-emission diesel engines that burn fuel more efficiently.
- Install vehicle accessories such as exhaust extenders that re-direct the exhaust away from the operator and attach filters to tailpipes and oxidation catalytic converters to reduce exhaust.
- Attach exhaust extractor hoses on the tailpipes of vehicles that idle for long periods (such as in vehicle maintenance shops).
- Run diesel engines outdoors rather than indoors when possible.
- Maintain engines regularly, and inspect the bodies of vehicles and seal cracks or holes to prevent exhaust from getting into the cabin.
- Turn engines off whenever possible to reduce engine idling.
- Put fixed diesel engines (generators) in separate, ventilated areas under negative air pressure.
- Ventilate indoor work areas well with vents in the walls and ceiling, and with air extraction fans to pull diesel exhaust-contaminated air away from workers, and exhaust it outdoors.
- Monitor worker exposure to diesel exhaust emissions.
- Use a respirator if ventilation and other control methods are not effective and suitable.
- Use job rotation to reduce worker exposure to diesel exhaust.