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Environmental Assessment

Diesel Exhaust

The Issue
Exhaust from diesel engines contains compounds, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate mater, that cause serious public health problems. Pollutants in diesel exhaust also contribute to the formation ozone and cause acid rain, haze, and global climate change.

EPA Action
In 2002, EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment published the document Health Assessment Document for Diesel Engine Exhaust, a comprehensive analysis of the health hazards associated with exposure to diesel engine exhaust. The assessment concludes that long-term inhalation exposure is likely to damage human's lungs and cause lung cancer and that short-term exposures can cause irritation and short-term inflammation in the lungs. The assessment also indicates that mounting evidence shows diesel exhaust can exacerbate allergies and asthma symptoms.

EPA's actions to address diesel exhaust include:
  • Research on technologies to reduce and measure diesel emissions,
  • Sponsorship of successful voluntary programs all designed to reduce emissions from the diesel fleet, and
  • Implementation of stringent new standards for diesel fuel and new diesel engines.
Related Links

Best Resources

U.S. EPA. Health Assessment Document for Diesel Engine Exhaust (Final 2002). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Center for Environmental Assessment, Washington Office, Washington, DC, EPA/600/8-90/057F, 2002.

US EPA. Health Assessment Document for Diesel Emissions (1994). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/8-90/057Ba (NTIS PB95192092).

US EPA. Health Assessment Document for Diesel Emissions Volume II of II. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, D.C., EPA/600/8-90/057Bb (NTIS PB95192118).

U.S. EPA. Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking (Also Known as Exposure to Secondhand Smoke or Environmental Tobacco Smoke ETS). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Office of Health and Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC, EPA/600/6-90/006F, 1992.

Mukherjee, S. P., J. Y. Kim, L. Palmer, R. Santella, AND D. C. Christiani. Oxidative DNA Damage in Diesel Bus Mechanics. Presented at ISEA, Philadelphia, PA, October 19, 2004.



Additional Resources

Gift, J., G. Foureman, J. Strickland, AND R. Setzer. Avoiding Pitfalls in the Use of the Benchmark Dose Approach to Chemical Risk Assessments; Some Illustrative Case Studies. Presented at Society for Risk Analysis, Dec. 3-6, 2000.

Schoeny, R. AND K. Poirier. Provisional Guidance for Quantitative Risk Assessment of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, Office of Health and Environmental Assessment, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-93/089 (NTIS PB94116571).
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