The Toxicity of Diesel Exhaust: Implications for Primary Care

Irina N. Krivoshto, BA; John R. Richards, MD; Timothy E. Albertson, MD, MPH, PhD; Robert W. Derlet, MD


J Am Board Fam Med. 2008;21(1):55-62. 

In This Article

The Future

In 2001 the Environmental Protection Agency proposed the Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards and Highway Diesel Fuel Sulfur Control Requirements, to be implemented by 2008.[1] The production and distribution of low (<30 parts per million) sulfur content diesel fuel, which is widely available in Europe, is one of the most significant changes in policy. This cleaner diesel fuel is viewed as being essential to reducing tailpipe emissions from large trucks and buses; the current sulfur content prevents pollution control equipment from working properly.[71] After-treatment devices such as diesel particulate filters, traps, and nitrogen oxide-reducing catalysts are also being implemented. One study found that buses using diesel and compressed natural gas as well as clean diesel fuel and particulate traps were superior to standard diesel buses with regard to emissions.[72] A new generation of diesel engines developed for Europe should become available in the United States in the near future. The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement onboard diagnostic systems to monitor diesel exhaust emissions on heavy-duty engines used in highway vehicles over 14,000 pounds by 2010. Individual states are also implementing "No Idling" policies with regard to diesel-powered vehicles that are not in active use.


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