World Health Organisation: 'Airbourne pollution does cause cancer'

 

A A A

Pollution in the air we breathe is a leading environmental cause of cancer, the World Health Organisation has said.

Evidence from many studies has already linked every day pollutants to a higher risk of cancer, but this is the first time the WHO has classified air pollution as “carcinogenic to humans”.

Car exhausts, power stations, industrial and agricultural emissions and heating and cooking appliances in people’s homes were all contributing to pollution, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said.

The new classification, which the WHO said should send “a strong signal” to the international community, places everyday air pollution in same group as cigarette smoke, UV radiation and plutonium.

It follows a thorough review of more than a thousand scientific studies, which found “sufficient evidence” that exposure to outdoor air pollution is a cause of lung cancer. The IARC also noted a link between common pollutants and bladder cancer.

According to the most recent data, 223,000 deaths from lung cancer in 2010 resulted from air pollution, they said.

Although exposure to air pollution has increased most rapidly in industrialising countries, and in particular China, the warning applies to “all regions of the world”.

“The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances,” said Dr Kurt Straif, head of the IARC 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.”

“Classifying outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans is an important step,” added the IARC’s 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.”

Air pollution was already known to be a potentially major factor in other serious problems, including heart and lung disease.

Cancer Research UK said that the findings were welcome but not surprising, and should be kept in perspective.

Dr Julie Sharp, the head of health information at the charity said: “Although air pollution increases the risk of developing lung cancer by a small amount, other things have a much bigger effect on our risk, particularly smoking.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Website Editor

£15 - £17 Per Hour: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently r...

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Qualified Nursery nurs...

Primary Teachers needed for supply in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: We are looking to rec...

Primary Supply teaching jobs in Stowmarket

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments