Government to assess WHO diesel fumes and cancer study

Department of Health says it will ‘carefully consider’ findings of WHO report linking diesel fumes to cancer risk

The government has pledged to look closely at a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) which suggests that exhaust fumes from diesel engines can increase the risk of lung cancer.

The report, released yesterday (June 12) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the WHO, claimed that ‘sufficient evidence’ exists to show the carcinogeneity of diesel exhaust.

The study by the IARC suggests a link between diesel exhaust fumes and lung cancer

The study found that populations are exposed to diesel exhaust from a variety of sources.

In response to the findings, a Department of Health spokesman, said: “We will carefully consider this report.  Air pollutants are a significant public health concern – we are looking at this issue as part of our plans to improve public health.”

This follows the DH’s decision to include air quality as one of its indicators for healthy living, outlined in the Healthy Lives, Healthy People health framework, published in January. The framework brings together 60 different indicators, including noise, housing as well as air pollution which are thought to impact on public health.

Public Health

The inclusion of air quality as a public health indicator was welcomed by Robert Vaughan, a national and local air quality official at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs at the Care4Air conference in Doncaster at the end of May 2012 (see AirQualityNews story)

Commenting on the findings of the IARC study, a Defra spokeswoman said: “We want to keep improving air quality and reduce the impact it can have on people’s health and the environment.

“Our air quality has improved significantly in recent decades and is now generally very good, and almost all of the UK meets EU air quality limits for all pollutants.  The reductions have largely been driven by a concerted effort to secure improvements in industrial and road transport emissions as well as fuel quality.”

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