Linking heavy exposure to diesel exhaust to lung cancer deaths in miners



Despite numerous studies investigating the relationship between diesel engine exhaust exposure and risk of death from lung cancer, the lack of quantitative exposure data and large sample sizes restricted our ability to accurately evaluate this risk. Accurate evaluation of the exposure-response for diesel exhaust and lung cancer is critical for the millions of people around the world who are occupationally exposed to potentially fatal carcinogens.


In 1992, IRP researchers led by Debra T. Silverman, Sc.D., and colleagues at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) embarked on a 20-year study of more than 12,000 miners, which became the first to show a statistically significant association between heavy exposure to diesel exhaust and lung cancer death.


These findings are important for public health, with implications for not only the 1.4 million American workers who are exposed to diesel exhaust in the workplace Identification of research needs to resolve the carcinogenicity of highpriority IARC carcinogens, but also the many millions of urban populations in the U.S. and around the world who may be exposed to diesel exhaust.


Silverman DT, Samanic CM, Lubin JH, Blair AE, Stewart PA, Vermeulen R, Coble JB, Rothman N, Schleiff PL, Travis WD, Ziegler RG, Wacholder S, Attfield MD. (2012). The Diesel Exhaust in Miners study: a nested case-control study of lung cancer and diesel exhaust. J Natl Cancer Inst. 104(11), 855-68.