Video: Railroad Diesel Fumes: VA FELA Lawyer Explains the Link to Lung Cancers, Diesel Asthma, & COPD - Long-term diesel fume exposures have been associated with not only increased rates of lung cancer but with other forms of cancers and lung diseases in railroad workers. COPD is now a known condition that can be caused by diesel fumes inhaled over long time periods, along with what is called diesel asthma by some doctors.