Report: Nevadans face higher cancer risks due to diesel soot

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Nevadans face a greater risk of developing cancer by breathing diesel engine soot and other airborne toxics, especially in Washoe and Clark counties and Carson City, a national advocacy group reported Thursday.

U.S. Public Interest Research Groups, or U.S. PIRG, said Nevadans on average face a one-in-4,444 cancer risk from airborne toxics, compared with a one-in-1 million standard set by the federal Clean Air Act.

"This is an unacceptable cancer threat to Americans, and one that we can virtually eliminate," said U.S. PIRG spokesman Ben Prochazka.

Most of the added cancer risk is from soot released by diesel-powered trucks, buses, and construction and farm equipment, the U.S. PIRG report said.

The report is based EPA data from 1996, the most recent year for which data are available.

The report ranked Nevada 36th among the states in emissions of diesel soot, which has been linked to lung cancer and triggers asthma and other respiratory effects.

Nevada ranked 42nd nationwide for vehicle emissions of benzene, which can cause leukemia and is associated with anemia, damage to the immune system and impaired fertility, the U.S. PIRG report said.

Nevada had the 39th highest emissions of formaldehyde nationwide. Formaldehyde may cause lung, nose, and throat cancers, as well as adverse respiratory effects. Half of those emissions came from cars, trucks and non-road engines.

With all three emissions, risks were highest in Carson City, Washoe and Clark counties.

The report applauded the EPA for its commitment to fully implement landmark standards to clean up diesel trucks and buses. Those standards were adopted in 2001.

The EPA is now developing new standards for diesel construction and farm equipment, with a formal proposal due in early 2003.



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