The World Health Organization raised the status of diesel exhaust. (Photo : usatoday.com)
While no one would ever suggest that inhaling smoke from diesel would ever do you any favors, the World Health has now made it official. The WHO has officially stated that the inhalation of diesel fumes can cause lung cancer.
The organization has also added it to its Group 1 Carcinogens, a list that includes arsenic, strontium-90, neutron radiation. Carcinogens are defined as any substance that is known to cause cancer in humans. It also says that the fumes are worse than second-hand smoke.
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However, in order for diesel fumes to become a serious health concern for most patients, they would need to be exposed to the fumes for a very prolonged period of time. According to the New York Times, scientists say that you should only be concerned about this news if you are place in direct, long-term contact with diesel fuels.
Mine workers and toll operators were some of the occupations mentioned as potentially hazardous. One study showed that miners subjected to fumes for several years were seven times more likely to acquire lung cancer than nonsmokers. Otherwise, normal day-to-day routines should not affect you, including owning a diesel car.
"I don't think it's bad to have a diesel car. I don't think it's good to breathe its exhaust," one scientist said.
Interestingly enough, another substance is grouped in with diesel fumes in the Group 1 Carcinogens: alcohol. Obviously, alcohol can cause some serious health problems, but it would require substantial intake of alcohol over a prolonged period of time.
The American Cancer Society is expected to follow the World Health Organization's move soon.