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Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
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General Description

Synonyms: vary depending upon the specific diesel exhaust component.

OSHA IMIS Code Number: D130

NIOSH, Registry of Toxic Effects (RTECS) Identification Number: HZ1755000

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Diesel exhaust: chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): Appendix A - NIOSH Potential Occupational Carcinogens

Health Factors

Carcinogenic Classification:

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carcinogenic classification: Likely to be carcinogenic to humans

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification: carcinogenic to humans (Group 1) [186 KB PDF, 4 pages]

Potential symptoms: Irritation of eyes, nose, throat; chest tightness, wheezing, pulmonary function changes; headache, lightheadedness; heartburn, vomiting. [potential occupational carcinogen]

Health Effects: Irritation-Eyes---Mild (HE-16); Potential lung damage (HE-10); Suspected carcinogen (HE2)

Affected organs: Eyes, respiratory system


  1. OSHA does not have a PEL for diesel exhaust, but it is designated as an OSHA Select Carcinogen.
  2. EPA's inhalation Reference Concentration, which estimates a safe daily exposure level during a lifetime is 5 ĩg/m3.
  3. Studies in animals have reported endocrine-disrupting activities of diesel exhaust, such as reduced estrogen receptor mRNA expression and decreased sperm production.
  4. It has been suggested that diesel exhaust particles may facilitate sensitization of allergic subjects to new allergens and also suppress alveolar macrophage function to decrease the clearance of bacteria from the lungs.
  5. Health effects of several individual components of diesel exhaust, such as acrolein, benzene, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, are described in other Chemical Sampling Information files.

Literature Basis:

  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Diesel exhaust
  • U.S. EPA Integrated Risk Information System: Diesel engine exhaust (CASRN N.A.)
  • American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees: AFSCME Health and Safety Fact Sheet - Diesel Exhaust [434 KB PDF, 4 pages]
  • Nikasinovic, L., Momas, I. and Just, J.: A review of experimental studies on diesel exhaust particles and nasal epithelium alterations. J. Toxicol. Environ. Health B. Crit. Rev. 7(2): 81-104, 2004.
  • Siegel P.D., et al.: Effect of diesel exhaust particulate (DEP) on immune responses: contributions of particulate versus organic soluble compounds. J. Toxicol. Environ. Health A 67(3): 221-231, 2004.
  • Takeda, K., Tsukue, N. and Yoshida, S.: Endocrine-disrupting activity of chemicals in diesel exhaust and diesel exhaust particles. Environ. Sci. 11(1): 33-45, 2004.

Date Last Revised: 06/29/2005

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:

  • OSHA has no sampling method specifically for diesel exhaust. The Salt Lake Technical Center recommends that OSHA personnel sample for diesel exhaust components such as acrolein, benzene, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. Sampling methods for these materials are listed in the Chemical Sampling Information file.

    NIOSH has published a method for Diesel Particulate Matter (as Elemental Carbon) - NIOSH 5040 [122 KB PDF, 5 pages]. This method measures total carbon (organic carbon plus elemental carbon). NIOSH has proposed the use of elemental carbon as a marker for diesel exhaust [2 MB PDF, 31 pages]. Method 5040 requires use of a special sampler that uses a precleaned quartz fiber filter. OSHA personnel that wish to use this method should contact the Salt Lake Technical Center to discuss obtaining the sampler. The sampler is not routinely supplied by the Salt Lake Technical Center.

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