Air Pollution DOES Cause Lung Cancer

So now we know.  Air pollution does cause cancer.  At least, in China and other rapidly developing countries like Addis Ababa, where the fumes from bulldozers to minibuses creating all this growth daily "pump out black plumes" according to Tyler Falk of

And these plumes -- the outdoor air pollution that "plagues urban areas from Ethiopia to China -- are causing lung cancer. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has officially labeled outdoor air pollution as a leading cause of cancer [PDF] after reviewing 1,000 scientific papers on the subject from five continents," writes Falk. And it kills 223,000 people a year, who die from lung cancer as a result of breathing in the polluted air.

“The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances,” Falk quotes Kurt Straif, head of IARC's Monographs Section. “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.”

Depending on the level of exposure in different parts of the world, the risk was found to be similar to that of breathing in second-hand tobacco smoke, Reuters quotes Straif.

It's the first time the agency has labeled air pollution as a whole as a carcinogen, Falk reports, though previously, the IARC labeled individual elements found in outdoor air pollution, like diesel engine exhaust, as carcinogens. 

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

Research suggests that exposure levels have risen significantly in some parts of the world, "particularly countries with large populations going through rapid industrialization, such as China."

How to fix it? Well, in China, spend about $817 billion (that's billion with a "b"), and Beijing alone, $163 billion, according to Falk.  


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