Written By: Jim Greenberg
Air pollutants from traffic and industrial fumes are now classified as “carcinogenic to humans” after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) found that air pollutants are linked to lung and bladder cancer.
A new report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which performed an extensive review of existing studies, found that exposure to outdoor air pollution from transportation, power generation and industrial and agricultural emissions was a cause of lung cancer, while increasing the risk of bladder cancer.
In response to the study’s findings, the specialized cancer agency of the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), yesterday announced that outdoor air pollution is “carcinogenic to humans” and is a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths in humans.
“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”, said Dr. Kurt Straif, head of the IARC Monographs Section.
While scientists have identified other health threats associated with air pollution, including increased risks of heart disease, respiratory problems and shortened life expectancy, this is the first global declaration that air pollution is the primary cause of some cancers.
“Classifying outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans is an important step”, said the IARC director, Dr. Christopher Wild.
“There are effective ways to reduce air pollution and, given the scale of the exposure affecting people worldwide, this report should send a strong signal to the international community to take action without further delay.”
The IARC’s warning follows another study released this week, which warned that pregnant women living in areas with polluted air and dense traffic are likely to give birth to underweight babies as pollutants have been found to restrict fetal growth.