Air pollution is a severe problem, but unfortunately, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. It kills more people than malaria and AIDS combined. One significant source of air pollution is burning diesel fuel, especially in older rigs that don’t benefit from the most recent pollution control technology.
Neglecting air pollution can cause serious consequences because another study by the WHO showed that diesel pollution can cause lung cancer. Dr Christopher Portier, Chairman of the IARC working Group, said: “The scientific evidence was compelling and the Working Group’s conclusion was unanimous: diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans. Given the additional health impacts from diesel particulates, exposure to this mixture of chemicals should be reduced worldwide.“
On top of all this, a new study concludes that “an estimated 6% of lung cancer deaths in the United States and the United Kingdom – 11,000 deaths per year – may be due to diesel exhaust.” Most at risk are truckers and miners who have high levels of exposure.
While a lot more lung cancer cases are associated with these occupational exposures, those who live in urban areas, especially near highways, are also more at risk than average because of the environmental exposure.
We definitely need to clean up diesel and move to clean energy sources for transportation, and design cities better so that the air is healthier. Something as simple as planting lots of trees near where people live has been shown to help reduce particulate matter pollution.