Diesel Technology Forum Statement About World Health Organization's Study on Diesel Exhaust

Diesel Technolgy Forum offers a statement on a newly released study by the World Health Organization on the health effects of diesel exhaust.

The Diesel Technology Forum has issued the following statement regarding the actions by the World Health Organization’s International Agency on Research for Cancer (IARC) regarding the classification of diesel exhaust. Allen Schaeffer, the Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, issues this statement:

“The Diesel Technology Forum welcomes and supports scientific inquiry and discussion regarding diesel fuels and emissions. The industry’s commitment is underscored by its funding for independent peer-reviewed, multi-stakeholder Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES)  by the Health Effects Institute (HEI). As recently as April 12, 2012, findings of this landmark study sponsored by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the California Air Resources Board (ARB), industry and HEI suggest ‘few biologic effects to diesel exhaust exposure.’

“Air pollution is a critically important health issue and the diesel industry takes clean air concerns very seriously. Diesel engine and equipment makers, fuel refiners and emissions control technology manufacturers have invested billions of dollars in research in an ongoing effort to develop and deploy technologies and strategies that reduce emissions to meet the increasingly diverse and stringent clean air standards in all nations throughout the world.  

“The results of these long-term commitments are very clear. New technology diesel engines, which use ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel, advanced engines and emissions control systems, are near-zero emissions for nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and particulate matter. In the U.S. for example, diesel exhaust is only a very small contributor to air pollution. EPA’s most recent data indicates that diesel accounts for less than 6% of all particulate matter in the air. And today in Southern California, more fine particles come from brake and tire wear than from diesel engines.

“Because more than 90% of all global trade, infrastructure development, key industries and an increasing number of automobiles are powered by fuel-efficient diesel engines, these advancements in clean diesel technology are enabling broad international environmental and public health benefits throughout the world. Advancements in clean diesel technology are consistently identified as a true success story for improving air quality and also having a positive impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Diesel Emissions Have Been Reduced By 99%

“For example, in the United States, emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses have been reduced by 99% for nitrogen oxides (NOx) - an ozone precursor - and particulate emissions. A key part of reducing emissions has been the shift to ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel that has been available since 2006. That change in fuel specification reduced sulfur emissions by 97% – from 500 PM to 15 PM, and enables the use of advanced emissions control technologies. Similar advancements are taking place in off-road engines and machines.”

New Research Highlights How Clean Diesel Technology Has Improved Public Health

Several recent scientific and academic research studies have highlighted the important advancements in clean diesel technology:

  • In a special presentation on May 24, 2012 to the California Air Resource Board (ARB) in Sacramento, CA, leading international scientists discussed the key short-lived agents black carbon (soot) and methane. Findings presented to the ARB indicated a 50% reduction of black carbon in ambient air over the past 20 years. Mary Nichols, Chairman of the ARB stated: “It is encouraging to see that ARB’s diesel regulations, while designed to improve public health are also addressing climate change.”
  • A new study released on April 12, 2012 by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) provides important new insights into the emissions and health effects of the new diesel, known as the Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES). These and related findings were recently presented at a CARB Research Seminar.
  • In its March 2012 Report to Congress on Black Carbon (BC), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated: “[T]he United States will achieve substantial BC emissions reductions by 2030, largely due to controls on new mobile diesel engines.“ The EPA report also recognizes the challenges in reducing emissions from both mobile and stationary diesel engines in these developing countries since they typically do not have ready access to cleaner low sulfur fuels that are required for most advanced emissions control technologies.
  • New research released April 23, 2012 from North Carolina State University - “Real-World Measurement and Evaluation of Heavy Duty Truck Duty Cycles, Fuels, and Emission Control Technologies” - shows that federal requirements governing diesel engines of new tractor trailer trucks have resulted in major cuts in emissions of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Trucks in compliance with newer standards showed a 98% decrease in NOx and 94% reduction in PM emissions.