A World Health Organization panel unanimously decided Tuesday that diesel fumes should be labeled as a "known carcinogen," according to BBC News. The decision comes after extensive research released earlier this year showed exposure can cause lung cancer and possibly bladder cancer.
* Diesel fumes were previously labeled "probably carcinogenic" because there was not enough evidence to prove the fumes cause cancer.
* The previous label came from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is also behind the change.
* The studies that proved the link involved the participation of groups that are considered high risk because of their level of exposure to the fumes, including miners, truck drivers and railway workers.
* Reuters reported diesel fumes go from a group 2A (probably carcinogenic substance) to a group 1 (definitely carcinogenic substance).
* The decision places diesel fumes in the same category and at the same level of risk as exposure to asbestos, mustard gas, tobacco, alcohol and arsenic, among other substances.
* A spokeswoman for the European Automobile Manufacturer's Association asserted the industry had been working on ways to address earlier health concerns and newer diesel engines are much cleaner than their predecessors.
* The Associated Press reports the risk of developing lung cancer due to exposure to diesel fumes is fairly small. Much of the panel's decision had to do with the fact exposure is a common occurrence for people, thereby raising the overall risk.
* A departmental director for the IARC asserted exposure was "on the same order of magnitude as passive smoking," the Associated Press reported.
* The decision to change the designation was the result of a weeklong meeting. Diesel fumes were last issued a classification by the World Health Organization in 1989.
* The medical director of the American Cancer Society reportedly had high praise for the decision, according to the New York Times. The American Cancer Society is also expected to change its classification of diesel fumes at the next meeting of its scientific committee.
Vanessa Evans is a musician and freelance writer based in Michigan, with a lifelong interest in health and nutrition issues.