Research finds diesel exhaust kills throat cells

Sep 11, 2007

Researchers at Deakin University have found that diesel exhaust is far more damaging to our health than exhaust from biodiesel, the plant-based fuel.

Associate Professor Leigh Ackland, Associate Head of Deakin’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, led a team of researchers who compared the effects of diesel exhaust and biodiesel exhaust on human airway cells. They found that diesel exhaust damaged and killed the cells, while biodiesel exhaust had little effect.

“Australia's escalating need for fuel is posing a major health problem,” Associate Professor Ackland said.

“The fumes from burning fuels, including diesel, contributes to pollution and can cause heart disease, bronchitis and asthma. Efforts are underway to replace petrol and diesel with cleaner biofuels, such as biodiesel, but there is considerable resistance to this.

“This study provides clear evidence that diesel exhaust is more harmful to our health than biodiesel exhaust.”

As it is not possible to study in real time what happens in the real human airway, the researchers conducted their research on human airway cells grown in a culture. The cells were exposed to the particulate matter emitted in diesel and biodiesel exhaust fumes.

“Particulate matter is the burnt material, including carbon particles, emitted into the air. This particulate matter is part of biodiesel and diesel fumes but the particles produced from biodiesel were much less damaging to the cells than particles produced from diesel,” Associate Professor Ackland explained.

“Our research found that the particulate matter from diesel exhaust stimulated a ‘death pathway’ response that the body uses to dispose of damaged cells. This response caused the airway cells to fuse together and die.

“We saw hardly any cell death after treatment with biodiesel particulates.”

Associate Professor Ackland said that the results of the study provide support for calls to move towards replacing petrol and diesel with cleaner biofuels.

“It is clear that breathing in diesel fumes is going to have a far more detrimental effect on our health than biodiesel. Given the level of cell death we have found, diesel exhaust could be the cause of respiratory disorders such as asthma and could even be implicated in cancer,” she said.

Source: Research Australia

Explore further: Strategies can help docs lower their tax burden

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

UC Riverside developing biofuel formulations for California

Aug 29, 2012

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside's College of Engineering – Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) are working with the state of California to develop diesel formulations with higher ...

Biodiesel can cut greenhouse gas emissions

Jul 19, 2012

Researchers in Spain have discovered that greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced through the use of biodiesel. The group from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM) in Spain investigated the benefits ...

Current use of biodiesel no more harmful than regular diesel

Feb 03, 2011

Up to seven per cent biodiesel blended in regular diesel will presumably not cause greater health risks for the population than the use of pure fossil diesel. This is the main conclusion in a memorandum from the Norwegian ...

Recommended for you

The human race evolved to be fair for selfish reasons

17 hours ago

"Make sure you play fairly," often say parents to their kids. In fact, children do not need encouragement to be fair, it is a unique feature of human social life, which emerges in childhood. When given the o ...

Non-stop PET/CT scan provides accurate images

Sep 18, 2014

Siemens is improving PET/CT imaging and data quality while reducing radiation exposure. The Biograph mCT Flow PET/CT scanner is a new positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) system that, ...

Experts: Chopin's heart shows signs of TB

Sep 17, 2014

The preserved heart of composer Frederic Chopin contains signs of tuberculosis and possibly some other lung disease, medical experts said Wednesday.

User comments : 0