By Dr. Kizito Lubano
Kenyans are increasingly turning to diesel for their cars and domestic or industrial generators.
This is because the price of diesel has remained relatively cheaper than petrol. And with the slash made by the budget statement read by Finance minister Njeru Githae last week, it was set to reduce by three shillings.
However, studies reveal that this cheaper option is turning expensive, as it is now confirmed that exhaust fumes from diesel engines can cause cancer.
In an announcement that caused consternation among car and truck makers, the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is a part of World Health Organisation (WHO), reclassified diesel exhausts from its Group Two A of probable carcinogens to Group One of substances that have definite links to cancer.
Diesel engine exhaust fumes can cause cancer in humans and belong in the same potentially deadly category as asbestos, arsenic and mustard gas, WHO experts revealed last week.
“The experts found that diesel exhaust causes lung cancer and is also linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer,” IARC said in a statement.
It is thought that people working in at-risk industries have about a 40 per cent increased risk of developing lung cancer.
Christopher Portier, chairman of the IARC working group, said the group’s unanimous conclusion was that diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans.
“Given the additional health impacts from diesel particulates, exposure to this mixture of chemicals should be reduced worldwide,” he advised in a statement.
IARC based the findings on research in high-risk workers such as miners, railway workers and truck drivers.
Diesel exhausts are now in the same group as carcinogens, ranging from wood chippings to plutonium and sunlight to alcohol.