Research suggests that in Britain more than 650 people a year die of lung or bladder cancer as a result of being exposed to diesel fumes at work. Around 800 new cases of cancer linked to diesel exhaust fume exposure are registered each year as well.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) explained how exposure to diesel fumes at work can cause cancer at an event in Peterborough on 23 March 2017.

Health, safety and environmental professionals from a range of sectors including healthcare, manufacturing and the public sector attended the event, organised by the Peterborough Environmental Occupational Safety and Health Group (PEOSH).

IOSH’s Professional Standards Committee Chair, Tim Briggs, gave insight into how diesel fumes can cause cancer and provided delegates with advice on how to control exposure.

Ahead of the event, Tim said: “Diesel fumes may contain over 10 times the amount of soot particles than in petrol exhaust fumes, and the mixture includes several carcinogenic substances, meaning they have the potential to cause cancer.

“At the very least, short-term, high-level exposures to diesel exhaust fumes can irritate the eyes and lungs. Continuous exposure to diesel exhaust fumes can cause long term, or chronic, respiratory ill health with symptoms including coughing and feeling breathless.

“At worst, if people are exposed to diesel engine exhaust fumes regularly and over a long period, there is an increased risk of getting lung cancer.”

Tim signposted delegates to the free resources IOSH has developed as part of its No Time to Lose campaign, which aims to raise awareness of occupational cancer and help business take action.

Tim added: “Health, safety and environmental professionals will find an array of free resources to help educate and inform the workforce on this important topic from the No Time to Lose campaign website.

“The diesel factsheet includes practical advice on how to control exposure. For example, switching to other forms of fuel where possible and replacing old engines with newer versions that have lower emissions.

“By putting in place controls in the workplace now, we can prevent cancer from diesel fumes.”

Barry Grigg, Chairman of PEOSH, said: “We at PEOSH decided to invite IOSH to address our monthly meeting because we felt our members would benefit from the knowing the facts about the potential long term effects on our health from diesel fumes.

“As a very well respected organisation within the health and safety field we also felt that IOSH would provide a balanced viewpoint, which would give our members the tools to influence their employers or clients and ultimately to ensure the health and wellbeing of colleagues, friends and family.”