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After Legal Fight, NCI Researchers Publish Study Linking Diesel Exhaust, Cancer

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the the-truth-will-out dept.

The Courts 196

ananyo writes "A landmark study involving U.S. miners that links cancer rates to diesel fume exposure has been published after a seventeen-year legal battle with an industry group. A February 27 Slashdot story had reported that lawyers for the mining industry had sent threatening letters to scientific journals advising them against publishing the study. Initiated in 1998, after the first of many legal delays, the study analyzed exposures in detail for more than 12,000 workers while controlling for smoking and other risk factors. In the end, the scientists found that miners faced a threefold risk of lethal lung cancer, and underground workers who were heavily exposed to diesel fumes faced a fivefold risk. The two concluding papers from the study are available in full."

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196 comments

Emissions (5, Insightful)

rullywowr (1831632) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260333)

I always wondered why many states require passenger cars to pass through strict emissions tests, however it is perfectly OK to have trains, dump trucks, buses, and large vehicles spew columns of dark black diesel exhaust into the sky....

oh yeah...FIRST!

"Heavily exposed" (5, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260429)

In fact, most developed countries outside the US, and some states inside, have strict rules on Diesel exhausts. Possibly over-strict given the relative lack of control of gasoline emissions from hot gas-powered trucks.But these people were being heavily exposed. When I worked in Diesel R&D, the engine test cells were carefully extracted and exposure to exhaust was very restricted. And for years many heavy vehicle workshops have tubing to remove exhaust fumes safely. The engine room ventilation systems on motor ships ensure that not only exhaust, but also under-piston and oil fumes, never go near engineering staff.

You could say that perhaps the industries with perhaps the greatest in-depth knowledge of these engines have taken the greatest precautions against long term exposure of staff.

Re:Emissions (5, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260459)

I always wondered why many states require passenger cars to pass through strict emissions tests, however it is perfectly OK to have trains, dump trucks, buses, and large vehicles spew columns of dark black diesel exhaust into the sky....

As the short answer to that, well-maintained big diesel engines have a useful lifetime measured in millions of miles. Decades of use.

Believe it or not, (most) emissions rules do apply to those vile soot-belchers (at least, the non-road ones); It will just take literally 50 years to cycle through the worst-of-the-worst currently in service.

Re:Emissions (5, Informative)

Skater (41976) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260549)

I always wondered why many states require passenger cars to pass through strict emissions tests, however it is perfectly OK to have trains, dump trucks, buses, and large vehicles spew columns of dark black diesel exhaust into the sky.... As the short answer to that, well-maintained big diesel engines have a useful lifetime measured in millions of miles. Decades of use. Believe it or not, (most) emissions rules do apply to those vile soot-belchers (at least, the non-road ones); It will just take literally 50 years to cycle through the worst-of-the-worst currently in service.

Yes, and the standards are getting more stringent. I think the most strict rules go into effect in 2015, and at that point the railroad engines will require DEF to meet the emissions standards, unless someone comes up with something amazing between now and then.

Your other point is right on target, too - old locomotives are often rebuilt and reused, which is probably better for the environment than building a new one would be, even if the new one is more fuel efficient or runs cleaner. There are locomotives in service from manufacturers that have been out of business for 40 years.

Re:Emissions (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260653)

In the UK there's a low emissions zone around the capital that prevents the worst offenders from entering. or they have to pay, or something. Can't remember exactly but it's there!

Re:Emissions (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260957)

In the UK there's a low emissions zone around the capital that prevents the worst offenders from entering

So no more taxis, buses and diesel trains?

Re:Emissions (2, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261205)

In the UK there's a low emissions zone around the capital that prevents the worst offenders from entering. or they have to pay, or something. Can't remember exactly but it's there!

You pay £100 per day for vans (or van-based vehicles, so some cars count too) if they aren't quite new. It's a pretty stupid law - it doesn't get the polluting vehicles off the road, it simply pushes them outside of London. Meanwhile it encourages Londoners to buy brand new vehicles, which is arguably worse for the environment anyway.

Then again, the government can't usually be accused of any kind of sensible thinking - in 2009 the UK government introduced a scrappage incentive to encourage people to scrap cars over 10 years old. This scheme was launched under the guise of helping the environment and the British economy. The result: lots of perfectly good cars scrapped and new ones purchased (the environmental cost of a new car far outweighs the cost of running a 10 year old car for a few more years until it really meets it's end of life). Meanwhile, since the UK car manufacturing industry is practically non-existent, this didn't really help the british economy, it simply ended up with foreign industry being subsidised by British tax money.

Nonexistent UK car manufacturing? (2)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261531)

Honda, Nissan, Toyota, BMW and a Chinese company whose name escapes me all beg to differ. Just like the USA, we have plenty of car makers; it is just that, owing to the serial incompetence of British managements, they are not British owned. And, as anyone who has ever had to drive a God forbid, British Leyland vehicle will tell you, this is a Good Thing.

Re:Emissions (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261455)

The dark black stuff is more unburned diesel than diesel exhaust. You don't see that stuff from a properly set up diesel engine (look at the exhaust from a modern diesel ship like a cruise liner - it looks like less than what comes out of those old trucks). On some modern diesels you can't see anything coming out of the exhaust at all, just like a gasoline car.

Sue the lawyers (5, Insightful)

kirthn (64001) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260337)

Sue the lawyers and Industrie group frorn endangering , and having knowledge of potetial dangerous effects...and delaying that for decades...how many more victims were added because of their frivolous behaviour

Re:Sue the lawyers (1)

wren337 (182018) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260571)

The biggest liability the tobacco companies had was that they KNEW what was happening and actively covered it up. I hope these groups have bought themselves a ton of liability from anyone who was injured AFTER they suppressed publication.

Re:Sue the lawyers (3, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260671)

An efficient, if extralegal, approach might be to deliver the news of the results and coverup and then politely turn ones back and whistle innocently in order to allow the exposed miners and the coverers-up to enjoy a frank exchange of views in private.

Providing pickaxe handles is optional; but should speed the matter up.

Re:Sue the lawyers (3, Insightful)

glop (181086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260581)

You can't do that. At the time they were postponing publication of the research there was no published scientific research that showed the danger of exposure to Diesel exhausts.
So basically, they were acting in good faith and just bringing healthy debate to this issue.

Now, where's that "sarcasm mark" key already?

Re:Sue the lawyers (1)

kirthn (64001) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260647)

I wonder...there was a lot of international research on this....and wouldn't be suspicion with such an important topic (health?!) be a consideration?.. .i mean...why stopping publication, that would be obstruction?!

Re:Sue the lawyers (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261095)

At the time they were postponing publication of the research there was no published scientific research that showed the danger of exposure to Diesel exhausts.

That's strange. I've known fine particulates are carcinogenic for at least 10 years. Where I read this I don't even know any more, but I've considered it a fact for some time. Diesel particulates seem to be specifically called out in whatever ancient source my mind recalls this from. To me, the cancer link is very old news, Suppression of this particular paper may be news, but not its content.

Re:Sue the lawyers (1)

ganjadude (952775) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261569)

That would be the industries point, Sure everyone knows how bad it is, HOWEVER until those super smart scientists put it in a journal, its only what WE know, not what science knows, at least in the eyes of the law i believe but IANAL

Re:Sue the lawyers (2)

gewalker (57809) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261571)

I was an design engineer at Cummins in the late 70's, did some emissions work there. They were concerned about cancer from diesel exhaust back then. So was the EPA. It was not considered proven science, but the consensus in was that the EPA was going to start regulating the particulates before too long. I can understand Cummins preferring the ostrich approach, but I would have thought the EPA would be a bit more active re: this. In reality, Cummins was not opposed the regulation in this area at the time, because they figured they were ahead of the competition in emissions control.

You Might Want to Think Twice About That (4, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260699)

Dear Sir or Madam,

It has been brought to our attention that you have an insightful idea that you wish to openly publish. At our firm "Dickweed, Asshole and Soulless" we value honesty and the truth but not as much as we value a large legal battle regarding your slanderous and libelous post. I don't feel the need to elucidate on what exactly we could charge you with but I would like to remind you that our clients are very powerful companies. Furthermore my colleague Chet Percy Soulless, Esquire takes a very personal pleasure in heading up cases against individuals such as yourself. On his desk is a ledger full of haikus devoted to this very topic mixed with poems of a rabbits dying breath as his white knuckled hands deny any more oxygen to its lungs -- this tome's title being "Satiated Bloodlust" golden embossed on what appears to be human skin. But I digress.

Letters similar to this one have been sent to Slashdot and various other users who have already agreed not to post such dangerous and unfounded ideas such as yours. So remember that, before you hit submit on the above post, you will be hearing from our firm if you do.

Ambiguously threateningly yours,

Alfred A. Asshole, Barred Attorney

Re:You Might Want to Think Twice About That (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261525)

Like that would ever happen: There's no way that 2 senior partners would interrupt their golf game to handle a simple C&D.

Re:Sue the lawyers (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260723)

The standards were tightened 10 years ago [scienceblogs.com] by the Clinton administration acting on best scientific evidence available at the time.

Re:Sue the lawyers (1)

kirthn (64001) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260837)

That's exactly the thing..."Best Scientific Evidence".....science is based upon other science, and published science....by withholding information/publication, they hinder science which could not profit from an earlier date publication....obstructing research...

TDI, TDCI, TDM, etc (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260347)

Enjoy your cancer, Europe.

Oh look... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260349)

The American legal system again. Where lawsuits let people die while feeding corps and trolls. Way to go "America"...

Re:Oh look... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260569)

Fuck off, troll

Re:Oh look... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260579)

What you gonna do? Sue me too?

How... (4, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260355)

How could those lawyers live with themselves? What rationalizing did they have to twist their minds with to keep the pretense of humanity?

Re:How... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260377)

I believe their rationalization is "screw the rules, I have money".

Re:How... (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260399)

I believe their rationalization is "screw the rules, I have money".

But I don't think (I could be wrong) people can live that way. I suspect everyone, except maybe some true psychopaths, eventually feels the need to find a way to excuse their behavior as morally commendable, or at least permissible.

Re:How... (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260467)

Well, you are wrong. And kind of sappy, too. Take it from a true neutral: Not everybody needs or wants morals.

Re:How... (3, Insightful)

stjobe (78285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260577)

Rationalizing is easy.
"I deserve this".
"It's only a job".
"I was only following orders".
"Everybody else does it".
"Nobody will know".
"Nobody will care".
"It's not against the law".
et cetera.

Re:How... (4, Interesting)

Quince alPillan (677281) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260587)

I suspect everyone, except maybe some true psychopaths, eventually feels the need to find a way to excuse their behavior as morally commendable, or at least permissible.

I think you've hit the nail on the head already. People with psychopathic tendencies are more prevalent than you might think, and they tend to rise quickly within corporate structures if they're highly functioning. Morals are a liability for these people and they do what they can to suppress them if they do have them.

Re:How... (0)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261331)

You have not met enough people. You couldn't be more wrong. Only a minority of people gives even the slightest care to being moral. That's exactly why we invest enormously in police and legal systems, because it's the only way to put the brakes on the avarice that rules most people.

Re:How... (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260473)

"Everyone's got a mortgage to pay. [inner monologue] The Yuppie Nuremberg defense."

If you like the lawyers, you'll love the twisted mentats who establish and staff what is politely referred to as 'Product Defense Industry'. This curious little world delivers opposing evidence, scientific controversy, 'independent' toxicology/epidemiology, and whatever else might be needed to support your lawyers in their battle against whoever is accusing your benevolent product of causing cancer in orphans or whatever...

If ever the body of scientific evidence turns against you, these brave mercenaries of the laboratory can deliver enough doubt to buy years, potentially decades, of further freedom to operate!

Re:How... (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261001)

Lets be fair, the people suing are not always right. There's plenty of assholes out there who just want a fast buck.

Re:How... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260501)

Gas contains "known" carcinogenics. Why is it a stretch to think its fumes might cause cancer?

Re:How... (1)

Necroman (61604) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260603)

I see can see a few:

1) Money
2) They don't believe the results are accurate.
3) They think the researchers are just a bunch of environmental nuts.
4) The lawyers may disagree with their client, but but they believe enough in the gray area of the law to see both sides.

Re:How... (4, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261313)

Lawyers have always been hated. From a book written in 100 AD and translated to English in 1400 AD:

Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

Poor lawyers... they have it rough. I wouldn't be one.

Re:How... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261411)

People are very good at rationalizing things in their favor, and the primary tool is confirmation bias. The mind-set is that of the conspiracy theorist -- every scintilla of evidence that your actions are harmless, or even beneficial, emboldens you, and evidence of harm is some kind of misunderstanding, or exaggeration, or part of an attempt to steal your money, or discredit you for unsubstantial ideological reasons.

You can just repurpose the rationalizations from the tobacco fights, and others, thus:

See, lots of the miners, including some with the heaviest exposure, didn't even get cancer at all. Some of the miners probably got cancer for genetic reasons, or from non-work exposure, but were able to get treatment thanks to our company's health-care plan, so, while cancer is certainly unfortunate, this particular sub-group is actually better off. The academic studies were at much higher exposure rates than occurs in our workplace, and left out numerous mitigating factors. We require the use of safety devices, but the workers don't use them, so the company is not really responsible. This is a power grab by the union, they won't be happy until we have no profit at all, even though it's the investors who take the risks. The National Cancer Institute is a government agency -- the same government that's pissing away my tax money on failed alternative energy investments, and suddenly I'm supposed to trust them?

Note that several of the foregoing claims are almost certainly false, and in any case are not known by me to be true, since I just made all that stuff up. The point of this post is not to provide true arguments for or against the dangers of diesel-fume exposure, but to illustrate some of the possible rationalizations.

Petroleum vs Veg (0)

jenningsthecat (1525947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260375)

It would be interesting to conduct this study using plant-sourced oils rather than petroleum fractions. My guess is that the cancer risk would be greatly reduced

Re:Petroleum vs Veg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260461)

Yes, because exposure to Methyl Esters (BioDiesel) is soooooooo much better than exposure to petroleum-based Methyl Esters.

And my guess is that is wrong (3, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260481)

We don't know what the actual causative factors are, but one thing is clear: complete combustion to carbon dioxide and water should not present a risk. Plant oils produce just as much in the way of soot and hydrocarbons as petroleum-derived oil. Overheating of vegetable oil, in fact, results in the production of known carcinogens.

It is partly for this reason that I've switched from Diesel back to gasoline for car power - I am not convinced that the Diesel industry has cracked all its problems with emissions.

Re:And my guess is that is wrong (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260987)

What I'd like to see is a study of gasoline vs. diesel exhaust exposure in a "normal" concentration environment, as far as cancer rates go.

My understanding is that gasoline particulates, due to the particulate matter being smaller in mass, hung in the air for longer (exposing more people) and went further into the lungs (causing more damage) than diesel particulates.

Re:And my guess is that is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261005)

Yes. I never considered the crazy hoot angle. Very intriguing.

Re:And my guess is that is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261153)

From what I have heard, the issue is that particulate size has gone down due to strict emission standards. This smaller size makes it harder to expel these particles from your lungs. This refers to carbon particles. I does seem to make sense.

Sorry, no source. Was talking to an engine design worker.

Gas vs Diesel (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261167)

It's not the fuel that is dirty. The thermodynamic cycle in both engine types is the same. The maximum efficiency of that cycle is a function of compression ratio. To get gas engines more efficient you can increase the compression ratio but then you run into premature ignition, incomplete combustion, and particulate emissions. Diesel fuel and engines rely on compression for ignition and hence require high compression ratios. I think the fuel is more likely to produce particulates, but gas can as well under similar conditions.

Re:And my guess is that is wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261605)

We don't know what the actual causative factors are, but one thing is clear: complete combustion to carbon dioxide and water should not present a risk. Plant oils produce just as much in the way of soot and hydrocarbons as petroleum-derived oil. Overheating of vegetable oil, in fact, results in the production of known carcinogens.

It is partly for this reason that I've switched from Diesel back to gasoline for car power - I am not convinced that the Diesel industry has cracked all its problems with emissions.

You do realize that gas engines produce benzene and other cyclic compounds in their exhaust gas?

Re:Petroleum vs Veg (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260515)

It would certainly be interesting to see; but I'm not sure that the outcome would be so rosy. The plant stuff would probably have fewer interesting inorganic components; but the ultrafine soot particles commonly produced by diesel engines, as well as any cool partially combusted hydrocarbon structures(some innocuous, some surprisingly nasty for the elements involved), would presumably still be unpleasant...

Re:Petroleum vs Veg (2)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261027)

Oil is organic. There's nothing inorganic about it. Where do you think it comes from?

Re:Petroleum vs Veg (2)

crawling_chaos (23007) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261319)

Came here to say this. This is the equivalent of people saying they don't want chemicals in their food. Utter and complete idiocy.

Re:Petroleum vs Veg (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261541)

Organic material that has been enjoying the company of whatever rocks and minerals have been sitting next to it for a zillion years, possibly leaching interesting inorganics(sulfur is the star name, because it shows up in fair quantity and sulfur oxides are pretty visibly noxious; but all kinds of inorganics show up in smaller quantities: calcium, copper, lead, vanadium, sodium, etc.) Oil is mostly organic; but sometimes the exceptions count.

Quantities depend on where the crude the diesel was distilled from originated, how exacting the refining process was, what the additives were(and, depending on the plant and where it was grown, may well not be zero in the biodiesel either); but they definitely do show up, and in quantities significant enough to be of engineering concern for fuel users, particularly of very expensive or very delicate engines.

You'll see references to sulfur and trace metal limits and testing methods in various standards for fuels: ASTM D3605 is one testing method, MIL-F-16884 one standard that sets requirements for trace metal content.

There's even a pricey textbook [astm.org]!

Re:Petroleum vs Veg (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260745)

There are valid concerns about contamination of the long-ago plant deposits, a.k.a. petroleum, mostly by sulphur, a very abundant element. Fresh plant-derived oils aren't contaminated that way. Otherwise, just think about it. All of our diesel is plant derived. Every bit of it. There were plants that died off tens of millions of years ago, and now we burn what's left. You think that just because you're using fresh plants will make much difference except for contamination with what has been leached from the rocks?

Industry group bullies (2)

wizzor (1321693) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260387)

I find it sad that this is the state of scientific community. I wonder how many scientific studies are left unpublished because it's in someone's best interest to prevent their publication? I know there are methods to detect publication bias through various means, such as funnel plotting, and would imagine medical technology is a field where the practice of selective publication is fairly common. For an interesting read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publication_bias#Effect_on_meta-analysis [wikipedia.org]

Re:Industry group bullies (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260761)

You've missed the point. It's not about the scientific community, duh!! They want to do studies and publish! It's the industry bullies who suppress scientific output.

Re:Industry group bullies (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261045)

It's always been that way. Medicine? Heretic! Heliocentricity? Heretic!

The only difference is now the god is Money.

First Amendment (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260419)

This might be a dumb question, but whatever happened to the freedom of speech? I thought this was exactly the kind of thing that it was designed to protect, especially if it is true. I am deeply confused.

Re:First Amendment (0)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260493)

Well, you see, people always chisel in exceptions. "You can't say fire in a crowded theatre" led to this. The concept that speech can be damaging is directly responsible for this. And yes, I think saying fire in a crowded theatre is just fine. If somebody tramples someone else in a panic (like George Costanza in that Seinfeld episode), it is THAT person who acted like an animal. In the specific case of there being no fire, it is a person trampling someone in response to a claim that has no evidence supporting it, and is little different to me than a religious honor killing: Taking a life via fiath. We all had fire drills. Trampling someone is a violation the firedrill training every child and college student had in every school and dorm. Far more of a violation than pranking people. This is how they got the Aqua Teen Hunger Force guys hauled before a judge for scaring the city of Boston, too. The "fire..theatre" logic.

Re:First Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260507)

These studies were done by researchers at parts of US federal government (National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)). Are such works protected under the first amendment?

Re:First Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260531)

What ...good is ....your .. freedom ..of speech. If you are ...unable to ... feed ..your family.

Re:First Amendment (3, Informative)

avgjoe62 (558860) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260613)

First of all, freedom of speech only means that the government cannot impede your right to express constitutionally protected speech. Freedom of speech does not mean that someone has to give you space on their pulpit to make your speech. So, Facebook can ban you from their site, Yahoo can moderate your comments and the local newspaper can choose not to publish your letter to the editor. You are still free to stand on a street corner and speak out about what you believe to be important.

Similarly, scientific journals do not HAVE to publish your paper. They are not obligated to. And when they have lawyers sending letters, threatening to tie up time and resources for years in a legal battle if the journal does publish your paper,you can bet that the journals will look long and hard at the costs to themselves for publishing your paper. It is not an issue of free speech - the government is not involved at all here. It is just a matter of intimidation. The industry lawyers are essentially school yard bullies, threatening to beat you up if you tell the teacher about what they've been doing. That those same lawyers know they will ultimately lose the case does not matter - they just want to threaten enough to make sure the paper never sees the light of day in a big, respectable public venue.

Is this right? Is it ethical? I'd think not. But, is this legal? Unfortunately, yes. And whatever else it may be, it is not a matter of free speech. It's much more petty and venal than that.

Re:First Amendment (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260891)

...- the government is not involved at all here. ...

I'm pretty sure the courts are part of the government.

Re:First Amendment (1)

avgjoe62 (558860) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261141)

And did the journals ever reach a courtroom with this? This was all simply a threat made to intimidate scientific journals and prevent the paper from being published. Even the issues that did reach the courtroom were procedural arguments over the release of data for review before publication. Those proceedings did not involve the journals, just the scientists working for the government themselves. Essentially, in those proceedings, the Mining Group and the House Committee argued that they had the right to review all data 90 days prior to publication, since the data were obtained by scientists working for government agencies funded with taxpayer dollars.

What I was talking about were the sinister letters sent out to journals that did not even have a thought of publishing such data and warning them that there would be "consequences" if they did. You can read about that here at sciencemag.org [sciencemag.org]

Well, that should silence the pro-diesel fumers (3, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260469)

Seriously, was there anyone out there in their right mind who thought inhaling diesel fumes (any *any* sort of petrochemical fumes, for that matter) WASN'T bad for you? Okay the cancer thing may be a new twist, but was there really anyone out there arguing for *more* diesel fumes for their workers?

Re:Well, that should silence the pro-diesel fumers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260777)

Hi,

STFU.

Hugs and kisses,

Juan Epstein

Re:Well, that should silence the pro-diesel fumers (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261599)

It takes Scientific Study and Legal Battles to confirm commonsense!

Diesel vs. Gasoline/Petrol (4, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260489)

I hope this won't be used to fuel the hysteria against diesel.

For some reason, tree-huggers driving huge waste-emitting SUVs (so they can drive to the forest to hug those trees) seem to think diesel is the Devil's fume.

A properly tuned modern diesel engine is sort of six of one, half a dozen of the other vs. gasoline. Some emissions are better, some worse. The Euro Standards have done a lot to reduce them.

And if you're riding a bicycle, you might have some standing. But please don't preach about diesel sitting in your gasoline-guzzler.

p.s. Since diesel engines are built (and have to be built) tougher (to withstand higher pressures), they last longer. Which in itself is a great savings for the environment. The throwaway society (get a new car before you're done with the "old" one's payments) is not something I'm really into.

Re:Diesel vs. Gasoline/Petrol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260529)

I agree. People associate diesel with the plumes of black smoke pumping out of big trucks. In fact, those plumes indicate that the diesel is tuned badly. I properly tuned diesel doesn't really have any smoke.

Re:Diesel vs. Gasoline/Petrol (2)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260827)

I don't really know what's there to tune on a modern Diesel engine. Care to elaborate? There are no adjustments, if it doesn't work right then something is worn out -- say, injectors, fuel pump, air mass sensor, rings, ...

Re:Diesel vs. Gasoline/Petrol (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261223)

On a common rail engine, you're right, there isn't much to adjust. If you're getting black smoke, the injector timing could be off, or the injectors are pushing too much fuel.

If the rings are shot and you use heavy diesel oil (like Rotella 15W40), you're likely going to get atomized oil droplets in the exhaust. Its gross. However, this scenario won't last long, because you're going to have compression loss and the engine will cease to function.

On a more traditional engine, there are adjustable injector pumps.

The Mercedes IDI engines have a linear injector pump with an adjustable aneroid compensator. You can tweak this knob to adjust the base amount a fuel that is provided to the engine. Since the knob is spring-loaded, over a long period of time, this may need adjustment for proper running.

The Detroit Diesel 6.2 has a Stanadyne injector pump that allows for some fine tuning. I have a 1983 Chevy Suburban 6.2 with a quarter million miles, and the exhaust is clean. Even with my foot to the floor, the only time you can really see the exhaust is at night when there are headlights illuminating it. I'm proud of the engineering that went into my truck, especially when I pass most 90s American and Japanese econoboxes spewing burnt oil out the tailpipe.

Re:Diesel vs. Gasoline/Petrol (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261253)

Sorry, thanks for the catch. I just meant that modern diesel cars are computer-controlled, injected, etc., and hence they are already properly tuned. It's not the black smoke of yesteryear.

Re:Diesel vs. Gasoline/Petrol (3, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260665)

US standards are tighter than Euro standards.

"p.s. Since diesel engines are built (and have to be built) tougher (to withstand higher pressures), they last longer. Which in itself is a great savings for the environment. The throwaway society (get a new car before you're done with the "old" one's payments) is not something I'm really into."

Modern petrol engines are very long-lived, and can be made to the SAME longevity specs as a diesel. Witness the VW two valve engines which were designed with the SAME engine block and bottom end and and engine block capable of fitting diesel, carbed induction, and fuel injection components!

Modern diesels are hideously expensive to repair in most cases (not VW). Modern pollution controls make them even more expensive to repair.

Re:Diesel vs. Gasoline/Petrol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260735)

In Europe, yes, In the U.S. NO. Our Diesel is dirtier and isn't at all comparable to gasoline exhausts. Sorry.

Re:Diesel vs. Gasoline/Petrol (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261105)

The throwaway society (get a new car before you're done with the "old" one's payments) is not something I'm really into.

Nothing to do with gasoline. The combustion engine itself is hardly ever the part of the car that dies - it's the power transfer system (transmission etc) or other auxiliary gear that dies - and that could all be powered by magical pixie farts and it would make no difference. Torque is torque, at that point.

Re:Diesel vs. Gasoline/Petrol (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261595)

Indeed. Modern auto transmissions are both complex AND designed for minimum production cost. It's cheaper to get one from a salvage wreck than replace with a remanned transmission.

For many vehicles older than ten years, it's not worth the bother unless you are a mechanic (I am) and don't pay labor.

They will go after the trucking industry (-1, Troll)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260517)

So, the next target will be the trucking industry...you just watch! Socialist/progressive/liberal/save the whales nuts won't be happy until we are naked, hiding in caves again.

Re:They will go after the trucking industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260617)

See from our perspective, you guys are already naked and hiding in caves worshiping magic sky man and denying the world around you while the rest of us are trying to get actual work done. 'Sides I don't see what diesel has to do with this; it's just another fossil fuel; another stopgap measure to tide us over until we find a better way.

Re:They will go after the trucking industry (2)

dlp211 (1722746) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260629)

Would you like something to drink with that strawman?

Re:They will go after the trucking industry (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260815)

Actually, going back to an agrarian lifestyle is a solution proposed by many extreme Green Peace activists. I say that relatively speaking because honestly, Green Peace activists are already extreme to begin with. No, I'm talking about the minority fringe wacko nut balls. Never mind that an agrarian lifestyle actually increases poverty and population.

This is what happens when a fringe wacko group takes the concept of Simple Living one step too far. It's a lifestyle shared by many Hippies and religious folk alike.

Re:They will go after the trucking industry (0)

AdrianKemp (1988748) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260645)

We can only hope (re: trucking)

The fucking things should be illegal anyways, they can't even make a legal turn.

Re:They will go after the trucking industry (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260707)

Truck standards have already changed. It's not absurdly difficult to do, though it's expensive.

Eventually, turbines hybrids can make for very efficient trucking in the way diesel-electric locomotives make for efficient railroading. They are already in use in hybrid buses and as datacenter power backups.
Capstone (for example) make some interesting turbine power units.

Really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260539)

I'll keep driving my 1990 diesel truck and continue to rack up the mileage. 343,500 miles and still going. No my truck does not spew black smoke either. Thats more of a thing of the newer direct injection diesel engines. It will only smoke a little if i stomp it to the floor from say 20mph. The way i drive that happens just about never. But seriously any air pollutant can cause cancer. Whats new?

Devil's advocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260621)

I actually tried to read said study. If understand this correctly they did not measure how much diesel fumes the workers were put to, instead they estimated this based on different parameters (amount of time working underground being the most important if I understood this correctly).

IF (and that's a big if) I understood this correct, then my conclusion is that they have only studied the link between lung cancer and working underground in mines or whatever secondary parameter they used to assess diesel exhaust exposure.
  Anyway, I suppose counter-studies will produced quickly....

Diesel engines or diesel fuel? (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260689)

I'm assuming that a diesel engine running on vegetable oil, as originally intended, would not have such harmful fumes, right? Swap to bio-diesel and you're good?

Some Questions (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260715)

I did RTFA, will not RTF studies most likely, but I am curious as to what parts of the diesel exhaust they decided were dangerous. The article implies also that they haven't examined current diesel exhaust towards the end, what with the mentions of things that have been done like DPFs and low-sulfur diesel.

Re:Some Questions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261259)

It is worth noting that the study focuses on mining - offroad trucks are not subject to the same emissions standards as on-road trucks. The US has the toughest diesel emissions standards as of last year, so hopefully this study can be taken as a motivation to get the mining industry to adhere to stricter standards (they can't be held to the same standards as they use their engines differently*, but with things like underground applications you just need proper ventilation and ducting to keep the workers to minimal exposure). That said, I would be interested if there were another study looking at current emissions, to know how much of a difference the standards make, and whether there is motivation to do more.

*No commercially available deisel engine met the new standards when they took effect, they aren't easy standards for engineering to meet.

Disclaimer: I work in a related industry.

Weird data (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 2 years ago | (#39260727)

The data's study show that 1 in 6 in the control group had a familial incidence of cancer whereas the study group's ratio was 1 in 4. Moreover, the study asks about the number of cigar and pipe smokers but ignores cigarette smokers.

Not clear to me how you can draw much of a conclusion with those confounding factors.

Re:Weird data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39261215)

It is an interesting omission.

However, it does not automatically mean the study is wrong. It just points to an omission.

Correlation etc (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39260767)

Normally by this point someone would have screamed correlation != to causation at this point. I this study rigorous enough to avoid that, or is it just to PC a subject?

I'm fucked (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261471)

I breathe in a shit-ton of diesel exhaust in my commute, and in offroad rallies (along with lots of fine dirt...I hope the mud that comes out of my nose the next day contains most of it).

Diesel-Using Industries = effing hypocrites (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261489)

After losing their anti-science suppression fight, they are now breezily dismissing these findings as irrelevant, as Tier 3 and 4 engines are so much cleaner now, due to regulations they also bitterly fought against.

Propane? (1)

blueforce (192332) | more than 2 years ago | (#39261573)

I'm not an expert on emissions, I'm genuinely curious: Towmotors have been running on LP for decades so they can run indoors at places like big box home improvement stores. Why wouldn't underground mining equipment also run on LP or natural gas? Is it just as harmful? If so, why are companies using it inside retail stores?
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