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Classification of Diesel PM as a Carcinogen

In 1998, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) completed a comprehensive evaluation of the potential human health effects from exposure to diesel exhaust. The OEHHA report and the recommendations of the Scientific Review Panel formed the scientific basis for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to identify particulate matter (PM) emissions from diesel-fueled engines as a Toxic Air Contaminant (TAC) in August 1998.  

Diesel engines are a major source of fine-particle pollution. The elderly and people with emphysema, asthma, and chronic heart and lung disease are especially sensitive to fine-particle pollution.  Children are also more susceptible than healthy adults to fine particles since their lungs and respiratory systems are still developing. Exposure to fine particles is associated with increased frequency of childhood illnesses and can also reduce lung function in children. 

In California, diesel engine exhaust has been identified as a carcinogen.  As a result, OEHHA adopted a cancer risk factor for public exposure to diesel PM. 

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