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Harmful Health Effects of Diesel Exhaust

Diesel is used within many aspects of our society, including in the transportation, agriculture, and mining industries. It is also used for many other applications. We use diesel engines because they provide more horsepower and torque and they are usually more versatile and cheaper to run as a source of power. There are many benefits of using a diesel engine, and there are many reasons to purchase a diesel car. Despite the many benefits of using diesel, there are some issues with diesel exhaust that poses a risk to human health. Read on to discover the health effects of diesel exhaust and discover why diesel exhaust fluid is so important.

diesel exhaust
Diesel Exhaust

Diesel exhaust comes from the burning of diesel fuel by an engine. Typically in diesel exhaust, one can find soot as well as many different kinds of toxic air pollutants and thousands of gases. Unfortunately, many of the toxic air pollutants aren’t just bad for the planet; they’re also bad for human health. Many of the toxic air pollutants are, or are suspected to be, cancerous. For example, arsenic and formaldehyde are often found within diesel exhaust. An additional pollutant that we will focus on later is a component of smog known as nitrogen oxides.

Health Effects

Since diesel exhaust particles are released into the air, most people are exposed to these pollutants through inhalation. It is particularly difficult to avoid being exposed to diesel exhaust due to the prevalence of diesel. Inhaling these toxic gases and particles means that they are drawn into the lungs, where they penetrate deeply and contribute to several different types of health problems.

In particular, pollutants like nitrogen oxides can cause lung tissue damage. The inhalation of these dangerous toxins can create mutations in the cells that leads to cancer. Long-term exposure to these particles is even worse because it poses the highest cancer risk of any air contaminant. Diesel exhaust inhalation greatly increases the risks of lung cancer. Besides long-term effects, there are also immediate effects of diesel exhaust such as irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs. Additionally, diesel exhaust can cause headaches and nausea. It also increases the sensitivity of people who have allergies and can increase the amount or intensity of asthma attacks. The people most susceptible to diesel exhaust related health issues are either the elderly or children.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid

You may be wondering at this point if the risks outweigh the benefits of diesel. However, over time there have been significant improvements to the reduction of diesel exhaust emissions. Improved technologies like Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) and Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) have been used to reduce and almost completely eliminate nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, which has greatly decreased (almost 90%) the amount of particle emissions from diesel. The use of Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) allows for all the benefits of using diesel fuel as well as protecting humans from the harmful effects of diesel exhaust.


If you’re interested in learning more about DEF or SCR technology, please contact us today!