Link Made Between Diesel Fumes, Exposure at Work and Lung Cancer

The Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC) have written a report which suggests a link between diesel fumes, exposure at work and lung cancer.

According to the report, there is scientific evidence which suggests that people exposed to diesel engine exhaust on a regular basis face a higher chance of developing lung cancer.

It is your employer’s responsibility to protect you from diesel fumes whilst you are at work.

Employers who do not provide adequate protection, equipment or ventilation should be prepared to face the consequences.

If you work around diesel fumes and have developed a respiratory illness because of your work environment, we may be able to help you.
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diesel fumes exposure

The Risks of Exposure to Diesel Fumes

In 2012, the International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that there is significant evidence that exposure to diesel fumes causes cancer in humans.

According to the WHEC’s report, there is now evidence to suggest that people exposed to diesel fumes, even at very low levels, are at risk of developing lung cancer.

This means people working in environments where they are regularly exposed to diesel fumes are likely to be at an increased risk.

The amount of time between initial exposure to diesel fumes and the diagnosis of lung cancer is not yet known.

The WHEC suggest that it could be many years, even decades, before workers who have been exposed begin to notice symptoms of lung cancer.

Because diesel only became popular from the mid-1990s it might only be now that you notice the impact, even if you were exposed to the fumes 20 years ago.

Jobs and Industries at Risk

There are certain jobs and industries which are at a high risk of exposure to diesel fumes, such as:

  • Power station employees
  • Vehicle maintenance workers e.g. mechanics
  • Construction workers
  • General transport industry workers e.g. working near or in cars, trucks, trains and/or ships
  • Agricultural workers

Of course, there are plenty of other roles in which you can be exposed to diesel fumes regularly.

If your employer fails to adequately control your exposure to diesel fumes and/or provide you with proper protection, they have put you at high risk of a very serious illness.

Advances in technology have lead to a significant reduction in emissions from diesel engines used in general road transport.

However, regulations for emission control technology for all non-road engines have seriously lagged behind.

This means that it isn’t accurately known to what extent modern, safer diesel engines have replaced those with older technology.

This is particularly true in sea-based industries.

It is possible that in UK workplaces where non-road diesel engines are used often, workers are actually exposed to a mixture of old and new diesel engines and emissions.

This means that you’re still faced with exposure to very harmful fumes.

If you think that your health has suffered because of your employer failing to protect you from exposure to diesel fumes we may be able to help you claim compensation.

Has your employer failed to provide protection?
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What in Diesel Fumes Causes Lung Cancer?

It is the combination of solid and liquid particles in diesel fumes that is likely to play a part in a worker’s increased risk of developing lung cancer.

And although at the moment it hasn’t been established if there is one substance within diesel fumes which causes lung cancer, it is thought to primarily be either:

  • Elemental carbon, or
  • Poly-aromatic hydrocarbons

Exposure to either of these is thought to be very dangerous for workers, causing respiratory problems which only worsen with more exposure.

What Should Employers be Doing?

Because the negative effects of diesel fumes appear to occur even from a very low level of exposure, your employer must make sure that you are adequately protected.

This means they must limit the amount of time you are exposed for.

They also have to provide you with effective protective equipment such as breathing apparatus and masks.

They must also, where possible, provide you with an adequately ventilated work space.

If they fail or neglect to do any of the above and you fall ill, they may be held responsible for your condition.

How We Can Help

You shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of someone else’s actions, especially when they may have such a negative effect on your health.

If you have been made ill as a direct result of an employer neglecting to protect you from exposure to diesel fumes, we may be able to help you.

We are able to work with you to try and get you the compensation you need and deserve if you’re suffering from lung cancer or another illness caused by diesel fumes.

Find out more about our industrial disease services, or
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