- LONDON (Reuters) - Japanese scientists suspect that a chemical found in the exhaust
fumes of diesel engines may be the most carcinogenic ever found, and the
cause of a rise in urban lung cancers, the New Scientist magazine said
- The compound, 3-nitrobenzanthrone, had
the highest ever score on a standard test for cancer-causing potential
of toxic chemicals. It also caused chromosomal aberrations in the blood
cells of mice.
- "I personally believe that the recent
increase in the number of lung cancer patients in vehicle-congested areas
is closely linked with respirable carcinogens such as 3-nitrobenzanthrone,"
said Hitomi Suzuki, a chemist at Kyoto University, who conducted the study.
- When Suzuki tested the compound on a
strain of salmonella he found that if caused more mutations than 1.6 dinitropyrene,
the previous most powerful known mutagen.
- Although both compounds are found only
in minute quantites, they are so dangerous that "it is easily understandable
that they would contribute considerably to the total mutagenic activity
of diesel exhaust particle extracts," Suzuki added.
- He called for stronger limits on the
loads that diesel trucks can carry because there are more emissions from
engines under heavier loads.