Diesel Engine Exhaust Emissions (DEEEs)

DEEEs are a complex mixture of particulates, gases and vapours, which occur when diesel-fuelled engines operate. In June 2012 the International Agency for Research in Cancer ( IARC) classified DEEEs as carcinogenic to humans. Information based on the Cancer burden study shows the number of estimated deaths as 625 and it is estimated that more than 10,000 workers were exposed with environmental exposure contributing to the overall exposure burden. No Workplace Exposure Limit (WEL - legal limits that have been set on the amounts of a particular substance that can be present in workplace air) has been set for DEEEs as a whole as there are insufficient data to establish a clear, reliable threshold for all potential health effects). None of the constituents are considered suitable as a marker for DEEE exposure, although some do have specific WELs. Available evidence suggests that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) may be the causal link.

The major source of workplace exposure to DEEEs is from emissions from heavy vehicles that use diesel fuel.  Emissions are also generated from stationary power sources, which may be used regularly in tunnelling, mining or on construction sites.

Interventions on DEEEs in the workplace include:

Further information on DEEE interventions is available by registering on the Occupational Diseases Community site.

HSE guidance on controlling DEEE exposures.

Updated 2021-06-23