Health effects of subchronic exposure to diesel-water-methanol emulsion emission

Toxicol Ind Health. 2006 Mar;22(2):65-85. doi: 10.1191/0748233706th244oa.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and particulate matter (PM) require urban non-attainment areas to implement pollution-reduction strategies for anthropogenic source emissions. The type of fuel shown to decrease combustion emissions components versus traditional diesel fuel, is the diesel emulsion. The Lubrizol Corporation, in conjunction with Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute and several subcontracting laboratories, recently conducted a health assessment of the combustion emissions of PuriNOx diesel fuel emulsion (diesel-water-methanol) in rodents. Combustion emissions from either of two, 2002 model Cummins 5.9L ISB engines, were diluted with charcoal-filtered air to exposure concentrations of 125, 250 and 500 microg total PM/m3. The engines were operated on a continuous, repeating, heavy-duty certification cycle (U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Chapter I) using Rotella-T 15W-40 engine oil. Nitrogen oxide (NO) and PM were reduced when engines were operated on PuriNOx versus California Air Resources Board diesel fuel under these conditions. Male and female F344 rats were housed in Hazleton H2000 exposure chambers and exposed to exhaust atmospheres 6 h/day, five days/week for the first 11 weeks and seven days/week thereafter. Exposures ranged from 61 to 73 days depending on the treatment group. Indicators of general toxicity (body weight, organ weight, clinical pathology and histopathology), neurotoxicity (glial fibrillary acidic protein assay), genotoxicity (Ames assay, micronucleus, sister chromatid exchange), and reproduction and development were measured. Overall, effects observed were mild. Emulsion combustion emissions were not associated with neurotoxicity, reproductive/developmental toxicity, or in vivo genotoxicity. Small decreases in serum cholesterol in the 500-microg/m3 exposure group were observed. PM accumulation within alveolar macrophages was evident in all exposure groups. The latter findings are consistent with normal physiological responses to particle inhalation. Other statistically significant effects were present in some measured parameters of other exposed groups, but were not clearly attributed to emissions exposure. Positive mutagenic responses in several strains of Salmonella typhimurium were observed subsequent to treatment with emulsion emissions subfractions. Based on the cholesterol results, it can be concluded that the 250-microg/m3 exposure level was the no observed effect level. In general, biological findings in exposed rats and bacteria were consistent with exposure to petroleum diesel exhaust in the F344 rat and Ames assays.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Atmosphere Exposure Chambers
  • Biological Assay
  • Blood Chemical Analysis
  • Body Weight
  • Emulsions* / chemistry
  • Emulsions* / toxicity
  • Female
  • Gasoline*
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Male
  • Methanol*
  • Micronucleus Tests
  • Nitrogen Oxides / toxicity
  • Particulate Matter / toxicity
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344 / physiology*
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity*
  • Water / chemistry*


  • Air Pollutants
  • Emulsions
  • Gasoline
  • Nitrogen Oxides
  • Particulate Matter
  • Vehicle Emissions
  • Water
  • Methanol