There are many dangers on the job for railroad workers in California. However, some are easier to see than others. One such danger that has not really been given the attention it requires is diesel fume exposure. According to the American Cancer Society, exposure to diesel exhaust fumes may cause lung cancer. For a railroad worker, this is a serious concern because of long-term, excessive exposure to exhaust fumes. In fact, railroad workers are among some of the most exposed workers.
While tests and research are not conclusive, studies have shown promising links between diesel exhaust exposure and cancer in lab rats. Lung cancer seems to be the most likely cancer caused by this substance, but there may be links to other cancers, such as larynx, stomach, lymphoma, bladder and leukemia. Diesel exhaust is considered a cancer-causing agent by many leading health organizations, such as the National Toxicology Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
According to Rail and Reason, the World Health Organization has come out firmly stating diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer and is linked to bladder cancer. WHO specifically mentioned railroad workers and increased instances of lung cancer in its report. There was also mention of concern for residents who live in area of high train traffic getting secondhand exposure. There is hope that this upgrade to a carcinogen will help governing bodies to begin to make new rules and regulations for the rail industry to protect workers and make changes to reduce diesel emissions. With other options, it is surely something that is coming in the future.