ACSH: Diesel Exhaust Risks Overblown

Gary Greenberg Gary.Greenberg at Duke.edu
Wed Jun 20 03:26:27 EST 2001

American Council on Science and Health 

(Moderator Note: ACSH is an organization routinely dubious about new
claims of environmental health dangers. Their editorials & press
releases are presented to the OEM-L forum in an effort to provoke
intellectual discussion, not as an endorsed point of view. For
contrast, see the newsletters posted from RACHEL. -G)


June 2001

Activists' Diesel-Fuel Report Smoky, Says Public Health Group 

New York, NY—Contrary to the claims of the activist group Natural
Resources Defense Council (NRDC), there is no scientific validity to
fears that diesel exhaust emissions from school buses pose a cancer
risk to schoolchildren. 

This was the conclusion reached by scientists affiliated with the
American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), which today released a
peer-reviewed analysis entitled School Buses and Diesel Fuel. The ACSH
report criticized a recently promoted report on diesel exhaust,
authored by the NRDC. 

The NRDC report, No Breathing in the Aisles, is replete with invalid
and unsupported assertions, according to the ACSH document. NRDC's
allegations, the ACSH report states, are based on uncontrolled
observations and unjustified extrapolations. The ACSH report was
authored by renowned toxicologist Daland R. Juberg, Ph.D., DABT, and
reviewed by 12 independent colleagues in academia and consultative
toxicology, in addition to the ACSH professional staff. 

The ACSH review of the NRDC report includes these conclusions: 

· The NRDC monitoring study, which forms the basis of the report and
from which the NRDC derived its risk estimates for children, is not
described in sufficient detail to allow for an informed critique of
its validity. Thus, the conclusions regarding cancer risk to children
from diesel exhaust (DE) exposure cannot be confirmed. 

· The estimated DE exposures for children riding a diesel-fueled
school bus have not been confirmed through other independent studies.
Quantitative human exposure data are scanty for DE, particularly for
non-occupational settings; thus comparisons to the NRDC findings are
not possible. 

· DE has been associated with a small increase in lung cancer risk in
some epidemiological studies involving occupational exposures.
Typically, occupational DE exposures are far greater than ambient
exposures to which children would likely be exposed. We know of no
published studies that link non-occupational exposure to DE with
increased cancer risk. 

· The estimated cancer risk for children calculated by the NRDC uses a
unit risk factor that has not received general acceptance by the
scientific community and is not recognized by the U.S. EPA. 

· There are no published studies that link childhood exposure to DE,
either from buses or any other exposure, with an increased risk of
developing cancer. 

Gilbert Ross M.D., ACSH's medical director and project coordinator for
School Buses and Diesel Fuel
http://www.acsh.org/publications/reports/school_buses.html, commented,
"This peer-reviewed critique of the NRDC's attack on diesel fuel shows
the difference between hype and sound science. Their report is riddled
with fallacy and half-truths, which have no place in scientific

He continued: "The NRDC is an activist group, not a scientific
organization, and its 'science' is never subject to criticism by
independent review. They were the main proponents of the infamous 1989
Alar hoax, and their report on the health risks of diesel exhaust
falls into the same category." 

Full text article:
Download: 104 K

The American Council on Science and Health is a public health,
consumer-education consortium of over 350 scientists and physicians,
experts who serve on ACSH's scientific advisory panel. ACSH publishes
reports on issues pertaining to the environment, nutrition,
pharmaceuticals, and tobacco and helps the public deal with real
health risks productively. 

Gary N. Greenberg, MD MPH    Sysop / Moderator Occ-Env-Med-L MailList
gary.greenberg at duke.edu     Duke Occupat, Environ, Int & Fam Medicine
OEM-L Maillist Website:                      http://occhealthnews.net


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