UN World Health Organization says outdoor air pollution a leading cause of cancer

posted in: Africa

Photo: Library of Congress CALL NUMBER LC-USW36-376


New York, US– The specialized cancer agency of the UN World Health Organisation (WHO) announced on Thursday that outdoor air pollution was a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths.

WHO is a statement, obtained by PANA in New York, said: “An evaluation by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) Monographs Programme found there is sufficient evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer and increases the risk for bladder cancer.”

It said the IARC pointed out that air pollution was already known to increase risks for a wide range of diseases, such as respiratory and heart diseases.

“Studies indicate that in recent years exposure levels have increased significantly in some parts of the world, particularly in rapidly industrializing countries with large populations,” it noted.

The statement disclosed that the most recent data indicated that 223,000 deaths from lung cancer in 2010 resulted from air pollution.

It quoted Mr. Kurt Straif, Head of the IARC Monographs Section, as saying that, “the air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances”.

He said: “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.”

It said that the IARC Monographs Programme, dubbed the “encyclopaedia of carcinogens,” provided an authoritative source of scientific evidence on cancer-causing substances and

In the past, the Programme evaluated many individual chemicals and specific mixtures that occur in outdoor air pollution.

These included diesel engine exhaust, solvents, metals, and dusts. But this is the first time that experts have classified outdoor air pollution as a cause of cancer.

The statement said the main sources of outdoor air pollution were transportation, stationary power generation, industrial and agricultural emissions and residential heating and cooking.

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