Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM)

In June 2012 International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1), based on sufficient evidence that exposure is associated with an increased risk for lung cancer.

One of the components of diesel exhaust (DE) is DPM which includes soot particles made up primarily of carbon and other solid particles made up of ash, metallic abrasion particles, sulfates and silicates. Diesel soot particles have a solid core consisting of elemental carbon, and are usually less than 1 micron in size, they have other substances attached to the surface, including organic carbon compounds.

Nearly all DPM is respirable in size and can be deposited deep in the lungs. The adverse health effects from DPM exposure include eye and respiratory irritation up to lung cancer if exposure is to high concentrations over a prolonged period of time.

High DPM concentrations can occur in confined areas or underground mines and may depend on the age of the equipment, the type of diesel engine and/or engine maintenance. The only way to determine the level of exposure experienced by workers is to measure personal exposure.

There is no current Worksafe Australia Occupational exposure standard for DPM, however, the Australian Institute of Occupational Hygiene, (AIOH) has set a guideline concentration where worker exposure to DPM levels should be controlled to below 0.1 mg/m3 as an 8 hour time weighted average value, measured as submicron elemental carbon.  The value has been determined as being a balance of the factors such as primarily minimising eye and respiratory irritation, then secondarily minimising any potential for risk of lung cancer to a level that is not detectable in a practical sense in the work force, and finally on providing a level that is achievable as best practice by industry and government.

Our Team of Occupational Hygienist’s and Technicians, can measure exposure to DPM and based on the results of the measurements provide guidance on methods to control exposure to DPM.

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