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Barkeyville Borough, Pennsylvania

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  • The average lifetime diesel soot cancer risk for a resident of Venango County is 1 in 88,354.
  • This risk is 11 times greater than EPA's acceptable cancer level of 1 in a million.

Find out how this risk was calculated; understand how your risk might be higher; an explanation of 1-in-a-million acceptable risk

The lifetime cancer risk from diesel soot in Venango County, Pennsylvania, exceeds the risk of all other air toxics tracked by EPA combined. [source]

Airborne Soot More Harmful Than Thought (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, March 7, 2007)

    • The average lifetime diesel soot cancer risk for a resident of Venango County is 1 in 6,206.
    • This risk is 161 times greater than EPA's acceptable cancer level of 1 in a million.

Lifetime Cancers per Million People in Venango County:

diesel soot         161
diesel soot
diesel soot
diesel soot
diesel soot   Inhaled

When diesel fuel burns in an engine, the resulting exhaust is made up of vapors, soot and gases, which may contain thousands of different chemical substances. Soot consists of extremely small particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs. The particles carry cancer-causing substances known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Gases in diesel exhaust, such as nitrous oxide, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, benzene, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide can also create health problems. Emissions currently include over 40 substances that are listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). The EPA, the World Health Organization, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences have all identified diesel exhaust as a likely carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). In the State of California, under Proposition 65, diesel emission is listed as a carcinogenic chemical.

While diesel emissions pose a serious health risk for all, some groups of people are especially susceptible to the dangers: People with respiratory and cardiovascular problems: Asthmatics are especially affected because the tiny particles disrupt their already constricted breathing. Persons with preexisting emphysema and heart disease are also more susceptible to the effects of diesel pollution. The elderly are particularly affected as their immune systems are compromised or weakened.

Workers in high exposure areas: Including bridge, tunnel and loading dock workers, auto mechanics, toll booth collectors, truck and forklift drivers, and people who work in areas where these vehicles are used, stored and maintained. Studies have suggested that these workers are more likely to develop chronic respiratory symptoms, bronchitis and reduced lung capacity.

Children: High danger of exposure from constant school bus use. Also, the respiratory system of children work at four times the rate of an adult, making them particularly susceptible.

According to the American Federation State County Municipal Employees (AFSCME), exposure to diesel exhaust contributes to the following health conditions: The incidence and severity of asthma attacks, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, coughing, wheezing and phlegm formation Irritation of the eyes, nose and mouth. Long-term effects: According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, exposure to elevated diesel pollution increases the risk of developing lung cancer.

Previous analyses (like EPA's Cumulative Exposure Project) have focused only on hazardous air pollutants listed under the federal Clean Air Act and did not include diesel emissions. Now that estimates of diesel particulate concentrations are available from NATA, it is clear that the cancer risks from diesel emissions are about ten times higher than the cancer risks from all other hazardous air pollutants combined.

California's South Coast Air Quality Management District found that mobile sources (e.g., cars, truck, etc.) represent the greatest contributor to estimated cancer risks. About 70% of all risk is attributed to diesel particulate emissions; and about 20% to other toxics associated with mobile sources (including benzene, butadiene, and formaldehyde). In Los Angeles County, 86% of added cancer risks are attributed to mobile source pollutants, and 78% of added cancer risks is attributed to diesel particulate emissions.

The national association of state and local air quality control officers (State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators and the Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials) conducted a screening-level health risk assessment of diesel emissions in its report Cancer Risk from Diesel Particulate: National and Metropolitan Area Estimates for the United States. The association concluded that diesel emissions may be responsible for 125,000 cancer cases in the U.S. STAPPA/ALAPCO concluded that the magnitude of the cancer threat from diesel particulate makes an overwhelmingly compelling case for aggressive and timely action by EPA to control onroad and nonroad diesel engines and their fuels.


The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has prepared a report describing the extensive noncancer health risks associated with the particulate matter and ozone pollution caused by diesel engines. In May, 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new emission standards for heavy duty vehicles. The PIRG report estimates the health benefits the nation could enjoy if the EPA implements this tough new heavy duty rule. EPA has not yet quantified the health benefits that will result from its heavy duty rule, so PIRG used methods from a similar EPA rulemaking on passenger vehicles to estimate health benefits. The report estimates that, beginning in 2030, the heavy duty rule will prevent:more than 4,000 premature deaths each year, nearly 3,000 hospital admissions each year, more than 6,300 total respiratory emergency room visits each year, more than 1,200 of which will be asthma-related more than 5.6 million restricted activity days each year, and more than 650,000 work loss days, saving over $67 million, each year. Source

A large number of human epidemiology studies show increased lung cancer associated with diesel exhaust. In addition to the potential for lung cancer risk, there is a significant potential for non-cancer health effects as well, based on the contribution of diesel particulate matter to ambient levels of fine particles. Exposure to fine particles contributes to harmful respiratory and cardiovascular effects, and to premature mortality. Source

Diesel engine emissions are highly complex mixtures. They consist of a wide range of organic and inorganic compounds distributed among the gaseous and particulate phases. Public health concern has arisen about these emissions for these reasons: The particles in diesel emissions are very small (90% are less than 1µm by mass), making them readily respirable. These particles have hundreds of chemicals adsorbed onto their surfaces, including many known or suspected mutagens and carcinogens. The gaseous phase contains many irritants and toxic chemicals. Oxides of nitrogen, which are ozone precursors, are among the combustion products in the gaseous phase. There is a likelihood for humans to be exposed to diesel emissions or their atmospheric transformation products in both ambient and occupational settings. Diesel emissions have the potential to cause adverse health effects. These effects include cancer and other pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. Source




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Barkeyville, Pennsylvania; Barkeyville Borough; Barkeyville Boro; Venango County; Irwin Township; Harrisville, Pennsylvania