Raising awareness to protect workers’ health. The health risks of diesel fumes
Up to 500,000 workers in the UK are exposed to dangerous levels of diesel exhaust fumes each year. This is due to the use of diesel vehicles or equipment, such as construction site plant, forklifts, lorries and tractors, and fixed-power sources, including compressors, generators and power plants. So what are the harmful effects of diesel fumes?
Short-term exposure: Irritation to the respiratory system and eyes. Chronic respiratory ill health, eg. coughing and feeling breathless, can seriously affect workers’ quality of life.
Long-term exposure: Defined as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Long term exposure to diesel exhaust fumes is known to cause lung and bladder cancer. Cancer is linked with the particulates in the fumes - ie the soot - which are easily inhaled deep into the lungs and also oxides of sulphur and nitrogen present in the fumes.