Diesel Exhaust is Toxic

From TheEngineer.co.UK:

But even when governments were promoting diesel cars, we knew there were issues with toxic emissions (those immediately harmful to humans, not CO2). Heating air in an engine produces nitrogen oxides (NOx) which include the toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2), greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) and nitric oxide (NO), which reacts with oxygen to form NO2. In a petrol car, these can be cleaned up by a three-way catalytic converter so that it emits on average around 30% less NOx than a diesel car, without after-treatment.

We know that long-term exposure to nitric oxide can significantly increase the risk of respiratory problems, and so these emissions have been regulated for some time. The fine particulate matter (PM) that diesel engines produce also causes cancer and can have acute respiratory effects.

Particulate filters in car exhausts can reduce PM emissions by more than 90%, but they require good operating conditions and regular maintenance. They can also produce more nitrogen dioxide, making diesel one of the main sources of this toxic gas.

And there’s this:

To protect the public from particle pollution, regulators have required diesel truck manufacturers to use filtering technology, which can cut out 85 percent or more of PM 2.5 [“a mix of soot and bits of organic compounds smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter”]. But these filters use a chemical reaction that sometimes generates more of another pollutant: nitrogen dioxide. It’s this extra NO2 that seems to make breathing filtered exhaust—at least in the short term—even harder on the lungs than straight diesel fumes. Nitrogen dioxide causes inflammation and tightening of airways, and thus cuts lung function. Over the long term, breathing it in can cause asthma and respiratory diseases. It also reacts in the atmosphere to form smog.

I reckon our City Representatives are saying, “So what? Respiratory problems? Cancer? Rub some dirt on it and walk it off.”

Remember that when the elections roll around.


  1. The City Council rejected even considering the resolution to write a letter to the GSA requesting that they design the POE to get commercial trucks off the BOTA. The message is simple: Business comes before people.

    If people came before business, the GSA would first have to prove that the trucks do no harm as a condition of their operating on the BOTA. As it is, we have to prove that they are harmful to people who live in the neighborhood. And even then, no guarantee that they go away.

    This is a case study in environmental injustice. It’s real and it’s here. Do you think for a minute that this community where I live (Dist# 1 westside) would allow diesels to idle next to Rivera Elementary down the street from me? Not a chance but Barrio kids, well let them breath NO2.

  2. El Paso´s Bridge of the Americas (BOTA) Port of Entry is the ONLY diesel truck (thousands daily!) binational crossing located within a residential area. Other ports are 25 miles away. During this period of environmental review for BOTA modernization, our local unified cry should be ¨GET THE BIG COMMERCIAL TRUCKS OUT OF BOTA!” and moved elsewhere, to Tornillo, Santa Teresa, etc.

  3. If I read this correctly, it’s a comment on the BOTA fiasco…let’s at least remember that Canales and Acevedo did the right thing!

  4. A friend told me that the County is unlikely to pick this one up, the Chamber got to them with its message.

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