Diesel is a type of fuel derived from crude oil. Large engines, including those used in many trucks, buses, trains, construction and farm equipment, generators, ships, and in some cars, run on diesel fuel.
The exhaust from diesel engines is made up of 2 main parts: gases and soot. Each of these, in turn, is made up of many different substances.
- The gas portion of diesel exhaust is mostly carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur oxides, and hydrocarbons, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
- The soot (particulate) portion of diesel exhaust is made up of particles such as carbon, organic materials (including PAHs), and traces of metallic compounds.
Both the gases and the soot of diesel exhaust contain PAHs.
Exposure to diesel exhaust is widespread in the modern world. Exhaust from diesel engines brings a complex mixture of soot and gases to roadways, cities, farms, and other places. Health concerns about diesel exhaust relate not only to cancer, but also to other health problems such as lung and heart diseases.