The results of a Swedish study published in June 2017 confirm that occupational exposure to diesel engines is a major cause of lung cancers, in particular squamous cell carcinomas (which develop from the lung mucus) and undifferentiated large-cell carcinomas.
Research has proved that at exposures to more than 33 µg/m³ of elementary carbon (one of the components of diesel engine emissions), the risk of developing a lung cancer is increased by 65% compared with unexposed workers.
The issue of diesel engine emissions is currently the focus of discussions concerning the revision of the “Carcinogens” Directive. An initial revision of this directive in May 2016, followed by a second one presented in January 2017, is currently undergoing discussion in the European Parliament. The European Commission refuses to bring this carcinogenic agent into the scope of application of the directive. The trade union organizations are in favour of applying the directive to these workers and determining a limit value designed to significantly reduce current exposures.
Taking into account the entire working life, there are around 20 million workers who are threatened by this risk in Europe. The ball is now in the court of the European Parliament, which is set to amend the Commission’s proposals in the coming months.