It has been a suspected carcinogen for many years but news has just been released that diesel fume particulate (sometimes known as PM10) is a known carcinogen (cancer causing agent). HSE estimates that 652 deaths have resulted from occupational diesel exposure causing lung and bladder cancer and also estimates that 100,000 workers are currently exposed to the hazard.
A call for the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) to take urgent action to prevent deaths in many workplaces due to exposure to diesel fumes has been made by the GMB union. This followed the announcement from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), that diesel was now listed as a proven human carcinogen. GMB’s call is backed by Professor Andrew Watterson and Tommy Gorman of the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group at the University of Stirling, Scotland.
The HSE acknowledges that some professional drivers are a high risk group and other workers in construction and tunnelling are also exposed to danger from diesel. Other high risk groups include railway workers and LGV drivers. These groups are likely to be prioritised by HSE in inspections and for enforcement as it is thought that the biggest risk groups have a 40% increased risk of lung cancer due to diesel exposure.