What’s Wrong with Diesel Emissions?
Diesel emissions are a complex mixture of gases and particles, composed of hundreds of organic and inorganic compounds. The specific physical and chemical characteristics of the diesel exhaust emitted by a given engine depend on many factors, including the composition of the fuel, the characteristics of the engine and the conditions under which the diesel is burned.
Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM)
Diesel particulate matter is a mix of elemental carbon particles, soluble organic carbon and other metallic compounds. DPM usually also contains some small amounts of nitrates, sulfates and sulfuric acid—that is created through reaction of sulfates with water molecules present in the air during ignition or after release into ambient air.
The rough surfaces of these particles make it easy for them to bind with other toxins in the environment, thus increasing the hazards of particle inhalation.
Particulate air pollutants can be categorized by their size. Particles categorized as fine and ultra-fine are of greatest health concern.
Once inhaled, these tiny particles are able to pass deep into the lungs and, ultimately, pass through the lungs’ outer membranes directly into the bloodstream.
Diesel emissions are making us sick.
Studies show that diesel air toxins can trigger asthma and heart attacks. There is also evidence that diesel pollution causes cancer and respiratory diseases.
Health Impact of Diesel Particulate Matter:
- Inflammation of lung tissue
- Asthma attacks
- Premature births
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Premature Death
The effects of diesel exhaust on the environment are similar to the effects of emissions from burning other fossil fuels. Diesel exhaust contributes to acid rain and the formation of ground-level ozone and global warming.
Diesel Particulate Matter:
- Contributes to smog
- Reduces visibility
- Absorbs sunlight causing global climate forcing (weather changes)
- May affect local climate changes
- Contributes to global warming