Sunday, October 20, 2013

Yes, You Get Cancer From Breathing

Air pollution in the United States may not be as chokingly visible as it is in China and Mexico City, but the invisibility of the carcinogens emitted in this country makes air pollution a greater, not lesser, threat.

Kiley Kroh at Think Progress:
Outdoor air pollution has been definitively linked to cancer and is officially classified as a carcinogen, according to research released Thursday by The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organization.

“The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances,” said Kurt Straif, head of the IARC’s monographs section, which is tasked with ranking carcinogens.

The IARC’s research found the toll of air pollution on public health worldwide is significant. In 2010 alone, exposure to ambient fine particles was recently estimated to have contributed to 3.2 million premature deaths, predominantly from cardiovascular disease, and 223,000 deaths from lung cancer. More than half of the lung cancer deaths attributable to ambient fine particles were projected to have been in China and other East Asian countries.

Sources of air pollution identified by the agency include emissions from motor vehicles, industrial processes, power plants and household heating and cooking fumes and while the chemical makeup of outdoor air pollution varies around the globe, the IARC was clear that “the mixtures of ambient air pollution invariably contain specific chemicals known to be carcinogenic to humans.”


“This is something governments and environmental agencies need to take care of,” Straif emphasized. “People can certainly contribute by doing things like not driving a big diesel car, but this needs much wider policies by national and international authorities.”

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