I have seen recent media reports about the harmful effects of particulate emissions from diesel engines.  Will these reports influence the future development of diesel engines? Shareholder, name withheld

This question refers to a recently published study by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), based in the United States, dealing with the classification of exhaust emissions from petrol and diesel engines.  The IARC study has reinforced a long-standing link between particulate emissions from diesel engines and lung cancer.  However, the IARC conclusions are based on emission profiles from engines built in the 1990’s and the early part of the last decade.  Accordingly, the results of the study represent obsolete engine technology used before particle filters were introduced. This fact was acknowledged by the IARC in its report.

The European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA) has issued a response to the IARC study stating:

“The IARC study does not reflect the advances in diesel emission technology in the past decade and cannot therefore be accepted as basis for regulatory or vehicle development actions. Instead of creating uncertainties in the markets, we should first complete ongoing studies on the emissions and health impacts of modern diesel engines that are equipped with the European world leading emission reduction technologies.”

Diesel technology has advanced considerably and the improvements in diesel emissions have been widely accepted by governments and regulating bodies. In April 2012, the Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study published by the US Health Effects Institute, suggested "few biologic effects to diesel exhaust exposure."  These findings were presented to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Currently, the EPA’s own data indicates that diesel emissions account for less than six percent of all particulate matter in the air.  Today, in Southern California, more fine particles come from brake and tire wear than from diesel engines.

As a member of the United States Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars (USCADC), SinterCast is involved in the dialogue with CARB, the EPA and US legislators.  The USCADC will provide a critique of the IARC report to ensure that policy decisions are made on the basis of factual and current information.  In the meantime, it is unfortunate that the media has sensationalised and cherry-picked the IARC report.  However, the report is not expected to influence consumer acceptance of diesel engines in the US – the dealers who sell new diesel vehicles will quickly dispel any concerns regarding the data collected from older vehicles.