Alternative Fuels Australia

Researchers say diesel exhaust kills throat cells

Posted by Car Geek on September 13, 2007

A sign highlighting the dangers of pollution. Image from, licenced under CC 2.0. Researchers at Deakin University in Victoria have shown that emissions from engines burning diesel fuel are far more harmful to airway cells than those from biodiesel. Associate Professor Leigh Ackland, who led the research, said that the escalating need for fuel use may pose a major health hazard.

“The fumes from burning fuels, including diesel, contributes to pollution and can cause heart disease, bronchitis and asthma. Efforts are underway to replace petrol and diesel with cleaner biofuels, such as biodiesel, but there is considerable resistance to this,” Professor Ackland said.

“This study provides clear evidence that diesel exhaust is more harmful to our health than biodiesel exhaust.”

 The study, published in the latest edition of the Immunology and Cell Biology journal, determined that the particulate emissions in diesel, which are higher and more dangerous than petrol or biodiesel, stimulated a “death pathway” response that caused human airway cells to “fuse together and die”. Particulate emissions from biodiesel, by comparison, caused hardly any cell death. Professor Ackland said that this is a clear sign for a need to move towards replacing petroleum-based fuels with biofuels.

“It is clear that breathing in diesel fumes is going to have a far more detrimental effect on our health than biodiesel. Given the level of cell death we have found, diesel exhaust could be the cause of respiratory disorders such as asthma and could even be implicated in cancer,” she said.

(Source: Deakin University via ScienceDaily)


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