Health Effects of Diesel Exhaust on Rural Alaska (2007)


Mary Ellen Gordian, MD, MPH
Carol Ballew, PhD


To determine if using ultra low sulfur diesel will improve health in rural communities, the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation partnered with the University of Alaska, Institute of Health, and the community of St Mary’s to conduct a pilot study. The main objective was to determine if it is possible to identify potential health effects from exposure to diesel fuel pollution and test methods to uniquely identify air pollution from diesel exhaust.


The purpose of the pilot study was to ascertain monitoring and health methods to develop a future, larger and more comprehensive study. However, this pilot study found no alarming health or monitoring results from the pilot study. Ambient results showed nothing near an exceedance of standards. Further, there has been a change in regulatory climate since the start of the study; EPA intends to regulate diesel burning sources that are common in rural Alaska. ADEC no longer recommends expending resources on peer review and future study as emissions of concern will eventually be controlled. This could change, however, if efforts to win exemptions from the federal fuel rules by some in rural Alaska prove successful.


The final report is available for download in pdf format: Rural Alaska Diesel Exhaust Health Impact Study (867 KB, pdf).