Agent Name

Diesel exhaust

Major Category

Other Uses


Pyrolysis Products


Appearance and odor vary depending upon the specific diesel exhaust component; [NIOSH]


Workers exposed to diesel exhausts include "mine workers, bridge and tunnel workers, railroad workers, loading dock workers, truck drivers, material handling machine operators, farm workers, auto, truck and bus maintenance garage workers, and longshoring employees." [OSHA Technical Links] Highest levels occur in underground mining and construction with heavy equipment with elemental carbon (EC) = 27-658 ug/m3; Medium levels occur in enclosed areas with smaller engines such as shop mechanics and dock workers with EC >50 ug/m3; Lowest levels occur in drivers, train crew, surface construction and mining, parking attendants, vehicle testers, utility service workers, and airline ground crew with EC <25 ug/m3; [PMID 19277070] EC comprises approximately 20% of diesel exhaust respirable particulate matter (PM); Therefore, 5 X EC = PM respirable in ug/m3; [Harber, p. 574]


"Some experimental evidence and some epidemiologic evidence suggest that emissions from diesel-powered engines may be lung carcinogens, but the epidemiologic evidence is inconclusive." [Siemiatycki, p. 336] Assessment of risk is difficult because of improvements in diesel engines in recent years. [Schottenfeld, p. 364] "Diesel asthma" was documented in three railroad workers who developed reactive airway disease after heavy exposure to locomotive exhaust while riding behind the engine in caboose-less trains. [PMID 8433186] Increased risk of COPD mortality was found in railroad workers exposed to diesel exhaust in the period 1960-1990; [Reference #2] Tunnel workers exposed to nitrogen dioxide from blasting and diesel exhaust had decreased pulmonary function. [PMID 14985522] See "Nitrogen dioxide." See "1-Nitropyrene."

Reference Link

OSHA Technical Links: Diesel Exhaust

Exposure Assessment
Explanatory Notes

NIOSH REL = lowest feasible conc.;

Reference Link

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality in railroad workers.

Adverse Effects
Chronic Bronchitis


IARC Carcinogen

Known Carcinogen

NTP Carcinogen

Anticipated Human Carcinogen

Links to Other NLM Databases
Toxicity Information


Related Information in HazMap

Occupational diseases associated with exposure to this agent:


Industrial Processes with risk of exposure: