10/17/13

Air Pollution: Announced to be Cancerous


    Just yesterday morning the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced the classification of outdoor air pollution as a Group 1 human carcinogen.  A specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, the IARC is the leading authority on the carcinogenicity of environmental chemicals.  After a thorough review of what has amounted to decades of air pollution research and epidemiology, the IARC has officially concluded that there is “sufficient evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer.”  The group also noted a relationship between air pollution and an increased risk of bladder cancer. 
      For a long time, air pollution as been known to increase the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, however, its association with cancer is something that has taken longer for scientists to demonstrate.  The most recent science, however, indicates that in 2010 there were over 220,000 lung cancer deaths globally as a result of air pollution.  By officially assigning outdoor air pollution to the Group 1 cancer category (reserved only for chemicals in which sufficient causal evidence exists), the IARC is shining a much needed light on the importance of air pollution exposure.  While in the developed world air quality is by no means a vestige of the past, this issue is of particular importance in developing nations, where dirty industries complimented by burgeoning automobile fleets are causing major air quality problems.  One can only hope that with this new categorization by the IARC, countries will take special notice and tailor their domestic policies so as to minimize dirty emissions to our atmosphere.  To read the full press release by IARC, visit http://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/iarcnews/pdf/pr221_E.pdf

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                                                                                                -Shahir Masri, MS

19 comments:

  1. very informative great article shahir!

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  2. I understand it took a while for scientists to confirm that air pollution is detrimental as it can produce cancer . . . so could there be any other possible hidden harms that we are unaware about and could possibly take more time to discover it ?

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  3. It's very nice to see that the health effects of air pollution is becoming known! My question is though, is if China will change to a more cleaner source of energy to protect the health of their abundant population? Also, is there a correlation between population and the level of air pollution?

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  4. Wow!! This is so surprising to me! I did not ever expect for air pollution to cause cancer!

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  5. Why wasn't the precautionary principle used here, to heavily reduce outdoor air pollution , to ameliorate our health, not make it worse for us?

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  6. I noticed how about 220 thousand people died and I was shocked because I did not know of that but I want to know how it affects the cardiovascular system

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  7. I think it is a good thing that people are aware of air pollution being cancerous. Knowing that air pollution is cancerous what regulations can countries like China set to improve their air quality and decrease their death rates?

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  8. This is very interesting. I've heard of a Malibu school in which students and teachers were developing cancer due to harmful chemicals used for construction, were being breathed in. We do, indeed, need to make the public aware of the dangers of air pollution because this honestly is surprising to me.

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  9. I wasn't aware of the harmful effects of air pollution until now, and my question is are they any specific pollutants that are causing these effects?

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  10. This article was very interesting an informative. I was unaware that air pollution could cause cancer. If countries were to minimize their dirty emmissions and find a new source to use as an alternative, would that source be efficient and accessible enough to require less energy while being ecofriendly?

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  11. Im shocked how air pollution causes cancer. How can this be regulated with countries using less energy ?

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  12. The moment I read the title of the article I was intrigued! I never thought there was a connection between air pollution and cancer.

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  13. I'm surprised that it took "decades of air pollution research and epidemiology," just to find a connection between pollution of cancer. These days, that kind of correlation would be common sense to someone living in the first world, and yet it took such extensive research to find the definitive evidence.
    Is it possible that these scientists were hindered by intentional human efforts? Perhaps the very industries that produced the pollution were already aware of its effects, and had intentionally withheld the information, as to continue their business without government health restrictions.

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  14. It is terrifying to see how just being outside in an air polluted area can increase the chances of lung cancer. Knowing this detriment is it possible to quicky remove this pollutant and if so which is the most cost efficient way?

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  15. Who would have thought that simply breathing the air around you could pose a threat to your body. Although the news isn't quite good, it is a great discovery because it pressures society into figuring out ways to clean the environment.This means cutting back on anything that pollutes the air. My question would be: Would society really take this seriously and take an action towards having a safer environment or would they let it continue and get worse because of their arrogancy?

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  16. Air Pollution is definitely a big problem these days because of increased vehicles on the streets, industrialization and urbanization. I wanted to know about what country, region, and time this data was collected.
    There was an article in 2012 that just breathing air in Mumbai during the time in Diwali (an Indian Festival) is like smoking more than a hundred cigarettes in a day. Majority of the pollution and problem is because of fire crackers during the time of Diwali but the main ingredient is Sulfur. I think the damage done to the human body is high as cigarettes that is why they compared it like smoking 100+ cigarettes in a day.

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  17. It is shocking to me to learn that a major environmental health problem such as air pollution is causing lung cancer among people. The rates are increasingly high as the article pointed out that from the 2010 results a total of 223,000 deaths occurred from air pollution. It can be scary to know that compared to people that don’t smoke cigarette which is one of the leading cause of lung cancer can also develop lung cancer just from being outside. It is important to understand the next step in decreasing lung cancer caused by air pollution, by understanding the major chemicals that are affecting the development of the cancer. It would be also interesting to understand the role of the EPA's Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards towards what they have set forth to do on this matter?

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  18. I had no idea air pollution itself had actually been listed as a carcinogen. I would be interested to learn what epidemiological evidence was viewed when linking cancers directly to air pollution. I read where they defined what outdoor air pollution is but I'm still wondering what evidence they viewed to make the link; that would be interesting to review.

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