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HEI study looks into human health risk from cerium diesel fuel additive

21 August 2001

According to a new study published by the Health Effects Institute (HEI), the use of cerium fuel borne catalyst for the regeneration of diesel particulate filters would result in a measurable increase of ambient cerium levels. However, even under the worst case scenario, the estimated human lung and body burden from cerium exposure would be substantially lower than that shown to produce health effects in animals.

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Ultimately, the report says, decisions about the use of the cerium additive, or other metal additives, need to be made in the context of a variety of factors besides information on exposure, rate of clearance from the body, and health effects. Other considerations are the additive’s ability to reduce harmful emissions, its persistence in the environment, and the feasibility and cost effectiveness of this technology in comparison with other technologies that can achieve these reductions.

The use of cerium as a fuel borne catalyst has been proposed to facilitate the regeneration of diesel particulate filters. Engine tests have shown that the system is effective in achieving substantial reductions in particle mass and number. In 2000, a filter system using cerium additive has been commercialized in France on the diesel powered version of Peugeot 607. The cerium additive is Eolys supplied by Rhodia.

The Boston, MA-based HEI is an independent, nonprofit corporation chartered to provide high-quality, impartial science on the health effects of pollutants from motor vehicles and from other sources in the environment. The HEI is sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), US motor vehicle industry, petroleum and chemical industry associations, as well as by the European Commission.

Source: HEI