There is a substantial body of expert opinion that the fine particles from diesel fumes are the most dangerous elements of traffic pollution that is reported to be responsible for around 1200 deaths a year in Australia (ABC 7.30 Report, August '04).
Ballarat Health Services recently reported a 24 per cent increase in cancer patients in the last 12 months. It is now around 40 years since trucks, buses, tractors, and in more recent times, cars, 4x4s and SUVs, etc, moved into diesel power in ever increasing numbers. Smoking and asbestos-related cancers have a similar long lead time.
My concerns are that diesel fumes could be responsible for this increase in cancers.
Diesel fumes contain 39 chemicals, including 18 known carcinogens, and on a list of cancer potencies approved by the Scientific Review Panel 1984-1988, diesel fumes is listed at number six, asbestos at number 22. Our authorities are paranoid about asbestos, which is responsible for around 600 deaths per annum in Australia, when double this number could be attributed to diesel fumes.
Awareness needs to be raised about this problem and a proactive approach from politicians and medical researchers is urgently required.