[ 15 Year Lag ]

A calculator designed to assist you in determining your risk of developing lung cancer from exposure to diesel fumes.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has concluded that Diesel Engine Exhaust (DEE) is a cause of lung cancer (Group 1: carcinogenic to humans). CAREX Canada estimates that approximately 897,000 Canadians are currently exposed to diesel engine exhaust at work. Approximately 2.4% (OCRC) to 6% (Vermeulen et al 2014) of annual lung cancer deaths may be due to DEE exposure.

Combined data from three U.S. occupational cohort studies including more than 40,000 workers in the trucking and mining industries (Vermeulen et al 2014) have provided a powerful estimate of the risk of lung cancer based on the level and duration of exposure to DEE.  The truckers’ study Garshick et al. (2012) and miners’ studies Silverman et al. (2012), (Attfield et al. 2012), (Stewart et al. 2010) combined, allows for a determination of the risk of lung cancer based on the level of exposure to diesel particulate matter (DPM).  DPM measured as elemental carbon (EC) is the best surrogate of exposure.

The following calculator, created by OHCOW, can be used as a guide to communicate the risk from DEE exposure and lead to prevention.

The tool requires either an estimate of exposure, as EC (NIOSH 5040) and duration of exposure.
Where the only measures available are total carbon (NIOSH 5040) or Respirable Combustible Dust (RCD) conversion factors have been provided.

The Calculator

You can use this calculator in two ways:

1. Let the calculator automatically enter data by selecting an occupation and entering your exposure period.
2. If you have actual readings, you can leave the occupation blank and enter the data manually.


Exposure Period


Average Respirable Elemental Carbon (REC) Exposure

 in µg/m3

15-year Lagged Cumulative Respirable Elemental Carbon Exposure

 in µg/m3 – years
(model based on 0-1000 µg/m3 – yrs range)


What is Relative Risk?    |    What is 95% Confidence Interval (CI)?

95% Confidence Interval (CI):





The following abbreviations are used throughout this tool:

  • µg/m – Micrograms per cubic meter
  • REC – Respirable Elemental Carbon
  • RR – Relative Risk
  • EC – Elemental Carbon
  • CE – Cumulative Exposure
  • TC – Total Carbon

Calculation Model: Vermeulen R, Silverman DT, Garshick E, Vlaanderen J, Portengen L, Steenland K. 2014. Exposure-Response Estimates for Diesel Engine Exhaust and Lung Cancer Mortality Based on Data from Three Occupational Cohorts. Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 122, No. 2 :172–177;

Additional Resources

The following presentations introduce the Diesel Exhaust Calculator and it’s use in a variety of applications and provide access to additional resources covering the health risks of working around diesel exhaust:

Diesel Exhaust Exposure and Health Risk in Transportation and the Community

• Dr. Kevin Hedges,
• Dr. Cheol-Heon Jeong, (SOCAAR)

Logo for the Prevent Occupational Disease website

This website brings together information, tools and resources to help employers, supervisors, safety and health practitioners and workers increase understanding and take preventative action at the workplace today, for health, success and sustainability tomorrow.

Exposure to Diesel Exhaust – What is the Health Risk?
An Introduction to a Risk Calculator

Dr. Kevin Hedges and John Oudyk
Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW)

Diesel Exhaust Exposure – Influencing Change

November 3, 2022

• Sean Staddon, WSIB Worker Representative, United Steelworkers Local 6500
• Dr. Sandra Dorman, Ph.D., Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health (CROSH)
Tobias Mankis, Science Communication Officer, CROSH
Dr. Kevin Hedges, Ph.D., Occupational Hygienist, OHCOW

Need help using this tool?

Contact OHCOW and a representative will get back to you asap.

View a complete listing of all OHCOW Occupational Health Apps, Tools and Calculators