A special Occupational and Environmental Health seminar was held on Tuesday, December 12, 2017. Dr Roel Vermeulen presented on “Is diesel equipment in the workplace safe or not? A quantitative risk assessment for diesel engine exhaust.”
Title: Is diesel equipment in the workplace safe or not? A quantitative risk assessment for diesel engine exhaust
Recently, diesel engine exhaust (DEE) has been classified as a known human carcinogen based on human, animal and experimental evidence. Several epidemiological studies, contributing to this assessment, have provided information on the risk of lung cancer by DEE exposure levels, expressed as elemental carbon (EC). These described exposure-response curves can be used for quantitative risk assessment to calculate DEE exposure levels, expressed as elemental carbon (EC), corresponding to acceptable risk (AR) and maximum tolerable risk (MTR) levels for the lifetime excess probability of dying from lung cancer. Using a meta-analytic exposure-response curve DEE exposure levels corresponding to the AR and MTR would be below 1 μg/m3 EC. Such limits are below current occupational exposure levels, and in some instances even below environmental exposure levels. Although uncertainties exist in the exact slope factors, these results indicate that an acceptable excess lung cancer mortality risk can only be achieved at very low DEE exposure levels. These results bring into question if diesel engines using older technologies can be used in workplaces.
Presenter: Dr. Roel Vermeulen
Dr. Roel Vermeulen is a Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Exposome Science at the Institute of Risk Assessment Sciences at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. His scientific research focuses on environmental risk factors for cancer and neurological diseases with a strong emphasis on integrating epidemiology, high quality exposure assessment, and molecular biology into multidisciplinary investigations. He has served on many international committees including the WHO and the National Toxicology Program in the US. He is a member of the Dutch Expert Committee for Occupational Standards of the Dutch Health council. He is elected chair of the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), Scientific Committee on Epidemiology in Occupational Health (EPICOH) in 2015.