A newly published review of top scientific literature suggests that ethanol-blended fuels “result in less toxic emissions from vehicles and present a lower risk to human health than regular gasoline.”
The study was a collaboration between The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota and the Energy Resources Center, University of Illinois Chicago, and was supported in part by the Renewable Fuels Association.
The review article, “An Assessment on Ethanol-Blended Gasoline/Diesel Fuels on Cancer Risk and Mortality,” was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2021) by Dr. Steffen Mueller of the Energy Resources Center and Dr. Shujun Liu and Gail Dennison of The Hormel Institute. It reviews research on the toxicity of gasoline and expected toxicity reductions with ethanol.
“I’m excited to see the research point to what we’ve suspected after years of working in this field – that replacing aromatics with ethanol indeed can have a direct positive impact on human health,” said Dr. Mueller, Principal Economist at the Energy Resources Center, University of Illinois, Chicago. “To further protect people from the unnecessary promotion of diseases like cancer, it is critical to continue research that examines the human health effects of these emissions.”
The research suggests cancer risks are positively associated with exposure to occupational and environmental chemical carcinogens, including those from gasoline combustion exhausted in vehicles. The toxicity of chemical agents has been thoroughly studied, however less effort has been put into studying the epigenotoxicity (e.g., aberrant DNA methylation that may lead to cancer). While the authors concluded that the available research points to biofuels containing fewer carcinogens and therefore reduced cancer risk, larger exposure studies are still needed to confirm the results.