Archive for the ‘General Interest’ Category

Diesel Particulate In Exhausts now Listed as Carcinogenic

Monday, November 12th, 2012

An article by Trevor Paddenburg in the Sunday Times reports in Western Australia that:

THE state’s 10,000 underground miners are being put at risk by breathing in a cancer-causing chemical, with a former safety inspector claiming the toxin’s impact could “eclipse asbestos” as an industrial killer.

Diesel particulate tiny carbon particles in diesel exhaust that penetrate deep into the lungs is now listed as carcinogenic by the World Health Organisation’s cancer research branch.

Underground mine workers are at high risk because the machines they use are diesel-powered, exhaust fumes cannot escape mine shafts naturally, and many companies stand accused of poor ventilation.

 

The article claims that the problem could eventually eclipse those caused by asbestos.  While the article focuses on the risks to miners, one wonders if the growing shift to diesel powered vehicles in normal city traffic, may lead to similar risks for other types of workers, such as those working in underground parking lots, vehicle and road maintenance, and construction where diesel machinery predominates. 

Apparently this is not an especially new risk, having been first identified some years ago.  Risk managers of potentially affected businesses might be wise to become informed of the potential risks involved in this area and ensure that appropriate measures are in place to manage such a seemingly wide-spread potential exposure.  Measures discussed in the article include filtration of exhausts and ventilation, but this assumes control of the vehicles and the work site – something not necessarily possible in all industries.  Air sampling would seem to be a necessary minimum for the purposes of assessing the potential exposure, however.