Besides the obvious issue of traffic safety there is a serious health danger in the fumes that heavy diesel trucks emit. With its dirty color and choking odor, one can gather using common sense alone that diesel fumes are unhealthy to breathe into the body, and unhealthy to spew out into the environment. But that is all an understatement. Diesel exhaust is responsible for 21,000 deaths in the United States each year, according to "Diesel and Health in America: The Lingering Threat," a report by the Clean Air Task Force (CATF).
Diesel fumes are filled with toxic, cancer-causing compounds that are small enough to be inhaled deep into your lungs.
That's because diesel fumes are made up of soot, or particulate matter (PM), which comprises hundreds of different compounds, many of which are carcinogenic and toxic. The American Lung Association reported that "diesel engines account for about 26 percent of the total hazardous particulate pollution (PM10) from fuel combustion sources in our air, and 66 percent of the particulate pollution from on-road sources."
In fact, diesel exhaust contains more than 40 substances that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says can cause cancer, including arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
According to the CATF report, diesel exhaust poses a national cancer risk 350 times higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency´s acceptable risk level. But that's not all. They also found that, each year, diesel fumes cause:
27,000 nonfatal heart attacks
410,000 asthma attacks
12,000 cases of chronic bronchitis
15,000 hospital admissions
2.4 million lost work days
14 million restricted activity days
Particularly at risk are children, the elderly, and those with respiratory problems or who smoke. People who live or work near diesel exhaust, or who exercise regularly in diesel-polluted areas, are also at an increased risk, according to the American Lung Association.
Aside from the risk of respiratory diseases, chronic obstructive lung disease, pneumonia and heart disease, the CATF report noted that diesel fumes have been found to:
Degrade the immune system;
Interfere with hormones, including reducing sperm production;
Cause nervous system damage in railroad workers who are exposed;
Induce allergic reactions.
Do we really need to ADD to the dangers that already exist? PitSense believes
that we must re-evaluate society's relationships between our aggregate
industries, our aggregate users, our environment, and ordinary citizens who
currently suffer the harmful consequences without adequate compensation.
We must create a better balance between all stakeholders.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure ... proverb
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H E A L T H & S A F E T Y
Safety issues are a major concern, both for local area residents and any drivers sharing the road along the haul routes. Any increase in heavy truck traffic brings increased risks. Rail and ship transport of aggregates are potentially more economical than truck transport, and more environmentally sound, but we believe would also be far safer. It is time to rethink our policies with regard to alternatives to heavy truck transport of aggregates on local and regional roads.
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