2. Exposure Assessment Branch, Health Effect Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown WV, USA.
3. Office of Mine Safety and Health, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
Background: Changing the fuel supply from petroleum based ultra-low sulfur diesel (ULSD) to biodiesel and its blends is considered by many to be a viable option for controlling exposures to particulate material (PM). This is critical in the mining industry where approximately 28,000 underground miners are potentially exposed to relatively high concentrations of diesel particulate matter (DPM). This study was conducted to investigate the mutagenic potential of diesel engine emissions (DEE) from neat (B100) and blended (B50) soy-based fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) biodiesel in comparison with ULSD PM using different engine operating conditions and exhaust aftertreatment configurations.
Methods: The DPM samples were collected for engine equipped with either a standard muffler or a combination of the muffler and diesel oxidation catalytic converter (DOC) that was operated at four different steady-state modes. Bacterial gene mutation activity of DPM was tested on the organic solvent extracts using the Ames Salmonella assay.
Results: The results indicate that mutagenic activity of DPM was strongly affected by fuels, engine operating conditions, and exhaust aftertreatment systems. The mutagenicity was increased with the fraction of biodiesel in the fuel. While the mutagenic activity was observed in B50 and B100 samples collected from both light- and heavy-load operating conditions, the ULSD samples were mutagenic only at light-load conditions. The presence of DOC in the exhaust system resulted in the decreased mutagenicity when engine was fueled with B100 and B50 and operated at light-load conditions. This was not the case when engine was fueled with ULSD. Heavy-load operating condition in the presence of DOC resulted in a decrease of mutagenicity only when engine was fueled with B50, but not B100 or ULSD.
Conclusions: Therefore, the results indicate that DPM from neat or blended biodiesel has a higher mutagenic potency than that one of ULSD. Further research is needed to investigate the health effect of biodiesel as well as efficiency of DOC or other exhaust aftertreatment systems.
Keywords: Ames Salmonella/microsomal assay, mutagenic activity, biodiesel, diesel exhaust particulate matter, oxidation catalytic converter