Air pollution a leading cause of cancer per WHO

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has just classified outdoor air pollution as a leading cause of cancer, via its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). More so than passive smoking in some areas. 

The IARC evaluates cancer-causing substances. This is the first time it has officially classified air pollution in its entirety a carcinogenic to humans. As in cancer causing. It is added to a list of over 100 substances like asbestos, plutonium, silica dust, ultraviolet radiation and tobacco smoke, as well as many chemicals and mixtures (that can be components of air pollution) like diesel engine exhaust, solvents, metals and dusts.

Air pollution is mostly caused by transport, power generation, industrial or agricultural emissions and residential heating and cooking. It was already known to raise risks for a wide range of illnesses including respiratory and heart diseases.

It took thousands of studies on air pollution tracking populations over decades to review and compile and time lag between exposure to polluted air and the onset of cancer also had to be taken into account. Animal lab testings were also conducted. All pointed to the same conclusion: the risk of developing lung cancer is significantly increased in people exposed to air pollution. An estimated 223,000 deaths from lung cancer resulted from air pollution in 2010. There is also convincing evidence of an increase in bladder cancer risk.

One may argue over a generalization, but despite higher exposure risk in some areas (Asia, South Asia, eastern North America, some places in Central America and Mexico, as well as North Africa), air pollution is nevertheless now considered a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths worldwide.


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* Up for some thought-sharing on this topic?  

This remarkable addition to the  human carcinogens Group 1 will be part of the WHO revising efforts of its global 2005 guidelines on air quality in order to help make recommendations on public health issues to its 193 member states.

Now, should we stop breathing… or do something about it? We already knew about the link between traffic pollution and autism but this time it really is a risk for everybody. The thought of every breath possibly taking us closer to a cancer diagnosis is as scary as overwhelming, but we should, we have to remember that every tiny little change, green  change, does matter and make a difference.

So let’s, as parents, friends of parents, as citizens  of this planet, ask and actually put this matter at the top of the priority list, where it belongs. Let’s tackle pollution and waste in our own daily lives, every day and a little more each day.

Let’s educate  ourselves and start altering our habits in a greener way, and tweak some more every day!

  • Does that type of announcements completely turn your world upside down, or do you just figure that we’ll either (magically) make it go away, or you feel that it just does not matters to your own personal time on this planet? Does it make you act or just sigh and move on?

Let us know… 

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