Exhaust from rail diesel linked to lung
Published: November 25th 2008
Source: The Washington Post
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Long-term exposure to diesel exhaust fumes may
increase the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which
includes lung conditions such as bronchitis and emphysema.
U.S. researchers studied the job and health records of more than 30,000
railway workers and found that those who worked on diesel trains
(engineers, brakemen, conductors) were more likely to die of COPD than
those who worked in ticketing, signaling, maintenance, or
The health records used were from the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board,
dating back to 1959.
Diesel exhaust includes fine particulate matter and combustion gases
that can be inhaled deep into the lungs. Previous studies have made a
link between the organic compounds in diesel exhaust and allergy, airway
inflammation, and changes in airway functioning.
The COPD risk for workers directly exposed to diesel exhaust increased
by 2.5 percent per year of employment. That risk fell slightly after
adjusting for smoking, a known risk factor for COPD, said lead
researcher Dr. Jaime Hart, of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard
Medical School in Boston, according to a news release from the two
The study was published in the journal Occupational and Environmental
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about COPD: