In maybe the least surprising air quality news this week, a long-term study involving thousands of participants concluded that exposure to diesel pollution increases your risk of lung cancer significantly. For those most heavily exposed, the risk was three to seven times higher.
Because the subjects were all miners who were working eight or more hour a day in underground chambers full of diesel engines, the results were predictable to anyone tracking the science in the 20 years since the study began. But it was the association of disease with diesel pollution at even “low levels” that will drive the debate over how and where highways are built or expanded. There’ve been a rash of studies coming out over the last year or so linking road traffic pollution to asthma, heart attacks, strokes and all the other ailments caused by bad air.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the study is that so much energy was expended by the diesel lobby to keep it from ever seeing the light of day. To the point of requiring the the Department of Health and Human Services to turn over documents and be held in contempt for not doing so.