Diesel fuel, specifically the petroleum-derived diesel (as opposed to biodiesel and other types), has a fairly significant amount of sulfur in it, which prevents catalytic converters from doing their job, resulting in higher emissions. Additionally, the sulfur particulates, once burned and entered into the atmosphere, become sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide, which then turn into sulfuric acid when mixed with water in the atmostphere.
There are newer standards for diesel fuel with lower amounts of sulfur, but these typically do not have the same viscosity, and require the use of other additives.
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