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Human beings exposed to heavy diesel exhaust may hasten their lung cancer mortality, a new finding says. Starting in the 1980s, studies have investigated a possible causal link between exposure to diesel fumes, classified as a probable carcinogen in 1989 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and lung cancer.
Researchers Michael D. Attfield, formerly of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), West Virginia; Debra T. Silverman, National Cancer Institute (NCI) and colleagues conducted a cohort study of 12,315 workers in eight underground non-metal mining facilities, called the Diesel Exhaust in Miners Study -- to study the linkage. The authors estimated the exposure of each worker to respirable elemental carbon (REC), a surrogate for diesel exhaust exposure, from a variety of sources, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported.
Researchers found a statistically significantly increased risk of lung cancer with increasing REC exposure among underground workers, said a university statement. Some evidence of increased risk was also shown for longer-term workers above ground who were exposed to elevated levels of REC. Silverman, who led the study said: "Our findings are important not only for miners, but also for the 1.4 million American workers and the three million European workers exposed to diesel exhaust and for urban populations worldwide."
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