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Diesel fuel is a form of petroleum used in some cars, trucks, farm vehicles, boats, trains, busses and a variety of other equipment with fuel powered engines. When diesel is burned, the exhaust and particulate matter it releases is not only bad for the environment, but is also harmful to human health. Diesel exhaust contains dangerous chemical gasses as well as particulate matter that, when inhaled, can cause various health hazards.

Diesel Exposure

Anyone around a piece of equipment that utilizes a diesel engine can be inhaling diesel exhaust. Certain occupations such as miners, oil and gas workers, truck drivers, railroad workers, construction workers, and farmworkers, can be exposed to more diesel exhaust than the average person. Click here for more information on diesel and the occupations that are most exposed to diesel exhaust.

Health Impacts of Diesel

  • Eye and nose irritation
  • Headaches
  • nausea/vomitting
  • Kidney damage
  • Respiratory disease
  • Cancer
  • Increased blood pressure

Ways to Avoid Diesel Exposure

  • Replace older vehicles and equipment
  • Wash thoroughly after dealing with diesel
  • Limit time near idling vehicles
  • Do not drink or swim in water that has been contaminated with diesel
  • If using diesel, pump gas carefully to avoid inhaling fumes

More In-depth Information about Diesel

Diesel engines – both in trucks and in generators – are used extensively in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. This contributes to air pollution at drilling sites. Read: Fracking Fumes: Air Pollution from Hydraulic Fracturing Threatens Public Health and Communities