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Diesel fumes may be as deadly as asbestos exposure

For decades now, it has been known that certain jobs and industries put workers in danger of being exposed to asbestos. People in the Navy, construction workers, plumbers, railroad employees and mechanics are among those jobs that put workers at risk. Now, however, truckers and others in the auto industry may be added to that list. A recent announcement explains that diesel exhaust is as dangerous and carcinogenic as asbestos.

Despite reports that diesel fuel is cleaner and safer than ever before, exhaust fumes have been reclassified as being a definite link to cancer. Previously, it was identified only as a probable carcinogen. Those with significant exposure to diesel exhaust fumes have developed lung cancer and bladder cancer as a result.

The World Health Organization made the decision after considering recent scientific evidence presented that indicated the dangers of exposure to diesel exhaust. By reclassifying the fumes as a definite link to cancer, WHO has put the toxic fumes in the same category as asbestos, mustard gas and arsenic.

In the United States, most vehicles that use diesel fuel are commercial trucks. However, ships, trains and generators often run on diesel which has a global impact. Many older vehicles and machines have not been updated to operate more safely, especially in developing countries, so exposure levels are still quite high.

Workers in certain industries face increased exposure to toxic substances. When the dangers of a job include the development of cancer, though, the medical costs, lost wages and suffering can be significant. Now that a link between exposure to diesel fumes and cancer has been established, truckers and others in the auto industry may be able to pursue compensation if they have gotten sick or have been diagnosed with cancer.

Source: Reuters, "UPDATE 4-Diesel exhaust fumes can cause cancer, WHO says," June 12, 2012

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