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Environmental Assessment

Health Assessment Document for Diesel Engine Exhaust (Final 2002)

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This assessment examined information regarding the possible health hazards associated with exposure to diesel engine exhaust (DE), which is a mixture of gases and particles.

The assessment concludes that long-term (i.e., chronic) inhalation exposure is likely to pose a lung cancer hazard to humans, as well as damage the lung in other ways depending on exposure. Short-term (i.e., acute) exposures can cause irritation and inflammatory symptoms of a transient nature, these being highly variable across the population.

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Background

Black exhaust cloud from a diesel truckThis assessment indicated that evidence for exacerbation of existing allergies and asthma symptoms is emerging. The assessment recognizes that DE emissions, as a mixture of many constituents, also contribute to ambient concentrations of several criteria air pollutants including nitrogen oxides and fine particles, as well as other air toxics.

The assessment's health hazard conclusions are based on exposure to exhaust from diesel engines built prior to the mid-1990s. The health hazard conclusions, in general, are applicable to engines currently in use, which include many older engines. As new diesel engines with cleaner exhaust emissions replace existing engines, the applicability of the conclusions in this Health Assessment Document will need to be reevaluated.

Next Steps

This is a Final Document.

Additional Information

To obtain a hard copy or CD of the Health Assessment Document contact EPA's National Service Center for Environmental Publications:

telephone 1-800-490-9198 or 513-489-8190
fax 513-489-8695
or by mail: NSCEP; P.O. Box 42419; Cincinnati, OH 45242-0419

Citation

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.

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