Exposure to diesel and gasoline engine emissions and the risk of lung cancer

Am J Epidemiol. 2007 Jan 1;165(1):53-62. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwj343. Epub 2006 Oct 24.


Pollution from motor vehicles constitutes a major environmental health problem. The present paper describes associations between diesel and gasoline engine emissions and lung cancer, as evidenced in a 1979-1985 population-based case-control study in Montreal, Canada. Cases were 857 male lung cancer patients. Controls were 533 population controls and 1,349 patients with other cancer types. Subjects were interviewed to obtain a detailed lifetime job history and relevant data on potential confounders. Industrial hygienists translated each job description into indices of exposure to several agents, including engine emissions. There was no evidence of excess risks of lung cancer with exposure to gasoline exhaust. For diesel engine emissions, results differed by control group. When cancer controls were considered, there was no excess risk. When population controls were studied, the odds ratios, after adjustments for potential confounders, were 1.2 (95% confidence interval: 0.8, 1.8) for any exposure and 1.6 (95% confidence interval: 0.9, 2.8) for substantial exposure. Confidence intervals between risk estimates derived from the two control groups overlapped considerably. These results provide some limited support for the hypothesis of an excess lung cancer risk due to diesel exhaust but no support for an increase in risk due to gasoline exhaust.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants, Occupational / toxicity*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Gasoline
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / classification
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles*
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity*


  • Air Pollutants, Occupational
  • Gasoline
  • Vehicle Emissions