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Study: Petrodiesel PM More Damaging to Human Health Than Biodiesel PM

Researchers at Deakin University in Australia have found evidence that particulate matter (PM) from petroleum diesel exhaust is more damaging to human health than that from biodiesel.

Associate Professor Leigh Ackland led a team of researchers who compared the cellular effects of biodiesel emissions particulate matter (BDEP) and petroleum diesel emissions particulate matter (PDEP) using a human airway cell line (A549) in culture.

At concentrations of 25 µg/ml, diesel particulate matter induced the formation of multinucleate cells. In cells treated with a mixture of 80% PDEP:20% BDEP, 52% of cells were multinucleate cells. In cells treated with a mixture of 20% PDEP:80% BDEP, 16% of cells were multinucleate, with a background multinucleate rate of 7%.

These results demonstrate a causal relation between the formation of multinucleate cells and exposure to exhaust particulate matter, in particular diesel exhaust, according to the researchers.

Exposure of A549 cells to PDEP induced apoptosis (structural changes leasing to cellular self-destruction, or “programmed cell death”). The team found that PDEP exhaust was a much stronger inducer of cellular death through apoptosis than BDEP. The researchers suggested that as exposure to diesel exhaust particles is associated with asthma and apoptosis in airway cells, diesel exhaust particles may directly contribute to asthma by inducing epithelial cell death through apoptosis.

Australia’s escalating need for fuel is posing a major health problem. Our research found that the particulate matter from diesel exhaust stimulated a “death pathway” response that the body uses to dispose of damaged cells. This response caused the airway cells to fuse together and die. We saw hardly any cell death after treatment with biodiesel particulates. This study provides clear evidence that diesel exhaust is more harmful to our health than biodiesel exhaust.

—Leigh Ackland

Associate Professor Ackland said that the results of the study provide support for calls to move towards replacing gasoline and diesel with cleaner biofuels.

The study has been published in the latest edition of the international journal Immunology and Cell Biology.




Uhh, is this a surprise to anyone? This has been known for years...


What new here is actually evidence that biodiesel exhaust is safer then diesel exhaust. Though how they rated apoptosis is questionable: if genetic damage is done to a cell and it does not undergo apoptosis that is a bad thing as it could lead to cancer.


So he gives results for B20, B80 and background level (no exposure), why didn't he also provide results for B100 and B0 (pure petro-diesel)? The limited results provided tend to make me jump to my untrained conclusion that B100 PM can barely cause any damage above the background level.


I'd bet the aromatic fraction (eg benzene) of petrodiesel has some connection to the particulate. Even the liquid makes some people's eyes water. Because the main component (high-n alkanes) evaporates slowly pump handles used for petro-d stink of benzene. I'd guess that's another reason people are staying with petrol cars.


Why not lay off the condescending wagon ?
The research on bio-anything combustion exhaust has barely started, and it has a very long way to go.

If it is so good as you certainly imply, please plug the exhaust from your bio-wathever vehicle into the cabin, and let us know what happens to you and whoever else you so deceptively try to convince. Please make sure to remain inside.

Harvey D

ICE vehicles could be restricted to specail tasks like aircraft, long range heavy trucks and buses. Others (including fossil fuel power plants and furnaces) could be phased out as we are doing for damaging tobacco smoking.

Burning fossil fuel (all types) is not the way to protect ourselves and the planet.

Global electrification + clean electricity producdtion is a much wiser approach.

Gregory Faulkner

...And tomorrow all nations shall immediately outlaw ICEs. Then we move from a threat of damage to human health and climate change from fossil fuels to worlwide famine as no economy will be able to get food or anything else to the masses. And that will solve the climate change problem too as we will have far fewer humans on the earth very quickly.

But I suppose we'll be saved by magic electric trains, trucks, air craft, and marine vessels to fuel the global economy. Okay, let's suppose we have these electric vehicles. Then, where will all the electricity come from to fuel our economy. We'll have to triple worldwide electricity production if we're going to move to an electric transportation system.

What is your plan for immediately eliminating ICEs? What will be the new replacement engines? How will those engines be powered? If it is from electricity, how do you propose we triple our electricity production? Is it coal? Is it nuclear? Or is it all renewable? If so, how do we mandate that single moms go out and buy solar panels? Oh yeah--I forgot--she'll have a choice of solar panels or a windmill. ICEs are the lifeblood of our economy. A transisition needs to be made, but any idea that we completely eliminate them is preposterous. We have to begin a long term strategy, and we must be careful how we implement it, so we don't hurt the least fortunate of us in society. ICEs are still the most energy efficient. It doesn't make sense to disregard ICEs; it's the source of energy that is the problem not the engines we use. What would be wrong with diversity that may still include ICEs using renewable fuels. We shouldn't outlaw anything. We should should be looking at everything to reduce our dependence on oil. That is the more pressing problem that is affecting our national security. Outlawing ICEs in favor of electric vehicles, which have not shown to be a takeover technology to move products around the world, makes no sense.

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