California Classifies 40
Particles in Diesel
Exhaust as Toxic
By Seth Hettena
Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- In a decision that could influence air quality across the country, California regulators said 40 chemicals found in diesel fumes must be listed as toxic air pollutants.
The decision Thursday by the powerful California Air Resources Board forces the state to come up with a plan to limit human exposure to the cancer-causing chemicals, which include benzene and dioxin.
California is the first state to declare that diesel engines spew chemicals that cause cancer and other diseases.
The 11-member panel is one of the most influential environmental regulatory agencies in the country. Its decisions often serve as a bellwether for stricter standards at the federal level, where regulators also are drafting standards for diesel emissions.
"The EPA is going to be giving increased scrutiny to diesel emissions from heavy-duty trucks," said Daniel Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute, an independent air pollution research group. "People at the EPA and in Europe will be following this very closely."
The trucking industry, which supported the board's decision, says the decision could force aging, less efficient trucks spewing black soot off the roads.
"When the public sees big, black smoke coming out of a truck, that's a reality," said Allen Shaeffer, vice president of the American Trucking Association. "We have to deal with that reality."
Engine makers say advances in design and cleaner fuel have yielded a "smokeless" truck and significant reductions in toxic emissions.
Studies have found a 40 percent increased risk of cancer due to long-term exposure to diesel fumes. However, a state judge last week threw out a lawsuit against diesel engine makers brought by environmentalists who claimed the public faced significant health risks by inhaling diesel fumes.