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Diesel Exhaust Exposure and Occupational Illnesses – Workmens Comp Law Firm

Recent studies suggest that prolonged exposure to diesel exhaust fumes are the cause of occupational illnesses, including lung cancer.


Diesel, also known as No.2 oil, is widely used in a number of heavy vehicles and machinery like trucks, buses, small engines, forklifts, and heavy machinery. Recent studies have suggested that diesel exhaust fumes are extremely hazardous and can cause a variety of occupational illnesses including lung cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, there is connection between exposure to diesel exhaust and the increase in lung cancer deaths in the U.S. About 12 million workers are exposed to diesel exhaust fumes annually. Those affected most are workers employed in the automobile, manufacturing, mining, shipping, construction, and farming industries, along with workers engaged in jobs such as heavy machine operators, truck drivers, miners, forklift drivers, and truck drivers.

Why is Diesel Exhaust Dangerous?

Diesel exhaust was termed as a carcinogenic and placed along with asbestos and radon in the list of hazardous materials in 2012. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), exposure to diesel fumes is extremely hazardous to health. OSHA states that short-term  diesel exhaust exposure can cause a host of respiratory problems, dizziness, and throat and lung irritation. Prolonged exposure to diesel exhaust fumes increases risks of contracting cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer. These findings have led OSHA to issue a warning to workers who are exposed to diesel exhaust fumes at the workplace. The National Institute of Health (NIH) found that truck drivers and miners have a 6% increased risk of death caused by lung cancer. Workers in both these jobs have heavy exposure to diesel exhaust fumes.

Preventing Diesel Exhaust Exposure

Unfortunately, the U.S. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) lists diesel as a ‘possible’ carcinogen rather than a ‘known’ one. It also has set exposure norms only for the mining industry. Diesel exposure limits for other industries are not clear despite the fact that the EPA works closely with other federal bodies to ensure compliance with the clean air laws for protecting public health and safety and the environment. In addition, the agency does not suggest any preventive measures for all workers exposed to diesel fumes.

However, certain basic preventive measures can be practiced by workers, which include avoiding working for too long in areas where engines are running. Workers should discuss using protective masks while working around machinery running on diesel and ensure that there is sufficient ventilation where diesel-powered machinery is kept.

St. Louis Workmens Comp Attorney

If you suspect that your health condition is a result of diesel exhaust exposure, contact a St. Louis workmens comp attorney for legal assistance. Call The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300 for a free consultation.

Workplace Injury and Accident Causes

Updated: March 11, 2022