Cancer burden of diesel exhaust steep for exposed workers

Almost five per cent of all lung cancers diagnosed in Canadian males each year are attributable to occupational exposure to diesel engine exhaust (DEE).
This burden was uncovered by Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) researchers as part of a wider project to estimate the current overall burden of occupational cancers suffered by Canadian workers.
The OCRC released preliminary data recently estimating the proportion of new DEE-related diagnosed lung cancers to be 4.92% for males, 0.29% for females and 2.70% overall. Considering it can take years, even decades, from initial exposure to carcinogens, including DEE and the development of cancer, these researchers looked at data for the risk exposure period between 1961 and 2001.
“Historically, workers exposed to diesel exhaust were mostly male—it makes sense then to see the attributable male fraction to be higher than for women,” says OCRC researcher Joanne Kim.
Specifically, this relates to male-dominated industries such as mining, trucking and the operation of other heavy equipment.


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