Study: Diesel emissions from trucks are overblown

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 5/28/2014

In recent years, truck owners have faced the most expensive diesel emissions regulations ever by environmental bodies like the California Air Resources Board.
A new report, however, says emissions from big rigs pales in comparison to particulate matter kicked out by households and other sectors.
Titled “Diesel Engine Exhausts: Myths and Realities,” the report also fired a shot at a claim central to CARB’s justification for implementing expensive rules like the Truck and Bus Regulation – that diesel transportation emissions are carcinogenic and therefore cancer causing.
Released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the report says 97 percent of particulate emissions in the U.S. are caused by economic sectors other than diesel trucks.
“From the data and facts mentioned above, we conclude with a high degree of reliability that it is misleading to claim that people’s exposure to diesel engines of road motor vehicles is the cause of increased risk of lung cancer,” the report states. “The claim that emissions from diesel engine exhausts from road transport are the main cause of lung cancer in humans needs to be seriously challenged.”
Although the transportation sector “is by far not the most significant source of PM emissions,” the report says, “nonetheless up till now it has been the most rigorous in introducing measures to address this issue.”  
The report stopped short of criticizing truck emissions rules. Such rules, in fact, should continue to be rolled out.
“On the contrary, they must continue and in an aggressively well targeted way,” the report says.
Despite the report’s endorsement of diesel emission limits, it repeatedly noted the relatively low amount of total emissions produced by the transportation sector.
“Trends and statistical analysis made by the United States of America, other countries and the European Commission show that road transport and other modes of transport are not the biggest emitters of particulate matter among the economic sectors,” the study’s conclusion says. “In fact, road transport counts for only 3 percent of diesel emissions in the United States of America and 15 percent in the European Union.”
Though truck drivers, toll booth employees, mechanics and others are around diesel emissions more than the general population, the report said it remains difficult to measure the health effects of diesel particulate matter and other emissions because other factors like lifestyles can’t be isolated.
“More sophisticated screening methods would be needed for more evidence-based results,” the report said.

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