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Home News and Update Year 2013 Air pollution causes lung cancer

Air pollution causes lung cancer

WHO Classifies It As Carcinogenic; Puts It In Same Category As Tobacco, UV Rays

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on Thursday declared air pollution as carcinogenic a major cause for cancer among humans.

The IARC added air pollution to Group 1 carcinogenic the same category under which tobacco, UV radiation and plutonium come. Air pollution was known be among the causes for heart and lung diseases, but now evidence has emerged for the first time about it being carcinogenic.

"There is sufficient evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer with a positive association with an increased risk of bladder cancer. Particulate matter, a major component of outdoor air pollution, was evaluated separately and was also classified as carcinogenic to humans (Group 1)," said an IARC statement.

IARC Monographs Section head Kurt Straif said the air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances. "We now know that outdoor air pollution is not only a major risk to health in general, but also a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths."

Every Breath You Take

Studies indicate exposure levels have increased significantly in some parts of the world, particularly in rapidly industrializing countries with large populations in recent years. The most recent data indicates 2.23 lakh deaths of lung cancer worldwide resulted from air pollution in 2010. The IARC Monographs Programme, dubbed the "encyclopedia of carcinogens", provides an authoritative source of scientific evidence on cancer-causing substances and exposures.

In the past, the programme evaluated many individual chemicals and specific mixtures that occur in air pollution. These included diesel engine exhaust, solvents, metals and dust. But this is the first time that experts have classified outdoor air pollution as a cause of cancer.

"Our task was to evaluate the air everyone breathes rather than focus on specific air pollutants," said Straif ’s deputy, Dana Loomis.

"The results from the reviewed studies point in the same direction: the risk of developing lung cancer is significantly increased in people exposed to air pollution."

IARC reached its conclusion after an independent review of over 1,000 scientific papers from studies on five continents.

The studies analysed carcinogenicity of various pollutants present in outdoor air pollution, especially particulate matter and transportation-related pollution.

Source
Times of India
18 October 2013,
London
by - Kounteya Sinha

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