No Time To Lose Campaign Models New Occupational Diesel Fumes Resource on DEMiSt Study Findings

This month, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) No Time To Lose (NTTL) campaign marked 5-years of raising awareness of the global work-related cancer burden and 3-months since having launched new operations in Australia, Malaysia and Canada.

NTTL provides free practical resources to help businesses take action on 4 of the most common carcinogenic occupational exposure sources:

  1. Asbestos;
  2. Silica Dust;
  3. Solar Radiation; and
  4. Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions (DEEE), which may contain approximately 10-times more toxicants [e.g. black carbon (containing particulate matter), hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides] than petrol exhaust emissions.

In respect of DEEE, IOSH is funding the Diesel Exposure Mitigation Study (DEMiSt), led by academics at King’s College London, which is investigating the impact of (in particular, black carbon) exposure on the health of professional drivers.

As we reported in edition 291 of BC Disease News (here), preliminary DEMiSt results were published at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress, in September 2019, revealing that London taxi drivers were exposed to 4.1 micrograms of black carbon per cubic metre of air (µg/m3). This is 4-times the average exposure for home or office workers (1.1 μg/m3).

DEEE can cause lung cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Noxious exhaust pollutants may also cause breast cancer, which has resulted in 'occupational BRCAness' being coined as a ‘new occupational disease’ – to find out more, click here.

Last week, NTTL expanded its selection of available resources by unveiling a new Pocket Card on DEEE exposure, subordinate on DEMiSt revelations, which advises employees working in (e.g. drivers), with (e.g. mechanics), or around (e.g. tunnelling, mining, construction, etc.) diesel-powered equipment, to:

  • Turn off engines, if possible;
  • Use tailpipe exhaust extraction systems;
  • Use workplace air extraction (couriers, truck and taxi drivers should close their windows while driving) – this is backed up by another KCL study, which contributed towards DEMiSt (reported in BCDN here);
  • Wear a FFP3-standard mask (European Standard EN149:2001); and
  • Get trained (on understanding dangers, knowing how and when to eliminate them and using PPE).[i]

Examples of potentially hazardous diesel equipment include:

  • Forklifts;
  • Trucks and vans;
  • Buses;
  • Trains;
  • Tractors;
  • Compressors;
  • Generators; and
  • Power plants.

We expect IOSH to publish comprehensive DEMiSt findings, along with additional DEEE resources, in Q1 of 2020.


[i] ‘No Time to Lose launches new resource to tackle diesel fumes on fifth anniversary’ (1 November 2019 NTTL) <> accessed 5 November 2019.