No link between new diesel engines and lung cancer, study shows

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 1/27/2015

A study shows that exposure to newer diesel engine technologies produced no evidence of lung cancer in lab rats. The same study says that post-2007 technologies like diesel particulate filters and ultra-low-sulfur diesel have cut particulate emissions from trucks by 90 percent. With that in mind, OOIDA and small-business truckers wonder if and when the tide of EPA regulations and mandates across the federal government will ever be stemmed.

The latest finding is part of the Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study on the long-term effects of inhaled diesel exhaust released Tuesday, Jan. 27. A controlled laboratory study produced no cancer or pre-cancerous changes in lab rats, according to a peer review by the Health Effects Institute.

Dan Greenbaum of the Health Effects Institute says the effects of technologies may not be cumulatively known for a while, given that mandates are still being phased in.

“We are already seeing a transition in America’s roads with over 30 percent of the trucks and buses in use today meeting these new standards, and the trend is growing in Europe as well,” Greenbaum said in a statement. “These results confirm the great strides that government and industry have made to reduce diesel risk – and argue for even greater efforts to accelerate the replacement of older diesel engines.”

The argument for “even greater efforts” may concern the ones hit hardest by cumulative costs and effects of EPA mandates. Those would be small-business truckers and owner-operators who cannot absorb or recover the costs of new equipment as quickly as larger fleets.

“Health-focused studies like this certainly have a role in informing policymakers, but regulatory agencies must also fully and accurately examine the impact of ever-changing regulations on truck purchasers and small-business truckers,” OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley said.

Bowley points to a study by the American Truck Dealers, part of the National Automobile Dealers Association, that showed that EPA regulations from 2004 through 2010 added more than $21,000 to the price of a new truck. That is important because EPA estimated those costs to be around $6,000.

A push for greenhouse gas reductions and increased fuel economy as described in a final rule by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for model years 2014-2018 will add $6,200 to the cost of a new truck according to the EPA.

EPA and NHTSA are currently preparing the second phase of greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency rules for trucks, and those too will add costs. Further, the EPA could point to the latest study on cancer research as a source to justify future actions, Bowley said.

“Indeed, the 2000s-era diesel regulations touted in this research are a case study in how huge flaws in an agency’s regulatory analysis and assumptions can be covered over by massive claims about benefits,” he said.

EPA and the United Nations have classified diesel emissions as a “likely” or “probable” carcinogen in humans. Results have largely been based on studies of miners in confined spaces. Those studies also took into account the effects of radon and other carcinogens on cancer rates to form their conclusions, according to the United Nations’ International Agency for Research on Cancer.

An IARC report to the U.N. in 2012, however, stated that the effects of diesel emissions for road transport are likely overstated when compared to industries, household heating systems and other sectors.

Copyright © OOIDA