Do You Worry About The Effect Of Diesel Fumes On Your Health?
February 1, 2009
BOWMANVILLE, Ont. - Greenhouse gas emissions have been wreaking havoc on our environment for decades, and renewed interest in the effects of diesel fumes on the environment has prompted the trucking i...
BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – Greenhouse gas emissions have been wreaking havoc on our environment for decades, and renewed interest in the effects of diesel fumes on the environment has prompted the trucking industry to severely reduce the GHG emissions produced by new heavy-duty trucks. Less discussed has been the effect of diesel fumes on the health of truck drivers; that is until a recent California study found increased cases of lung cancer and other respiratory diseases in truck drivers as opposed to other professions. The findings have prompted the Air Resources Board to move to aggressively reduce emissions in trucks. But what about drivers who have been sitting on diesel engines day in and day out for years? Truck News went to the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to find out if drivers are concerned about the negative effects of diesel emissions on their health.
• Claude Roy, a Montreal-based trucker with 34 years of experience, says he’s not too worried about the findings.
“All trucks are already on the safety check every now and then so there’s not too much smoke. But is it worse than a gasoline engine? I guess they have to do something about it,” Roy wonders.
Manell Meri, a driver with Celadon based out of Kitchener, Ont., said he was surprised to hear about the study’s findings.
“This is the first I’ve heard that it causes cancer. But it would be a good idea if companies put (in an APU) which runs a gallon for 24 hours. It’s better to use that than running the trucks like this.”
Bruce Kaplar, a driver with Reimer Transport out of Winnipeg, Man. says that the risk of breathing diesel fumes is minimal unless you’re in close quarters. “I’m not a mechanic and they’re the ones that are at more risk than us,” said the 39-year veteran.
Dave Whalen, a driver with Maple Leaf Cartage in Toronto, says that he often wonders what kind of effect sitting above the truck’s fuel tank is having on his health.
“The toxins are coming up through the floors, you’re blowing back heat from the exhaust, it’s leaking out, it’s coming through somehow or another, so you’re sitting in the cab, you’re exposed to it. I’m always worried about the health risk,” says the driver of 31 years. “The truck I’m driving here is a new Freightliner and when they go in for service, they try to cut down on the fumes and stuff as best they can, but the toxins have to come out through somewhere. It’s always a wonder what you’re subject to. I burn an average of $700 worth of fuel a week so that’s a lot of toxins.”
Steven Crawford, a driver with Challenger Motor Freight based in Cambridge, Ont., says that if he was concerned about his health, he would have chosen another profession.
“I drive a company truck and a lot of company trucks have idlers in them and that works really good at night. My truck has an idle time right now of about 4.2% which is really low,” he says. As for air quality and the effects of global warming, Crawford says what’s happening now is all part of the earth’s natural cycle. “Just like anything else in nature it will recycle itself eventually, but not in my time.”
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