It’s official: Outdoor air pollution causes cancer
Today the cancer agency of the World Health Organisation announced that it has classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, after reviewing the latest scientific evidence, concluded that there is sufficient evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer. They also noted a positive association with an increased risk of bladder cancer. This is a significant step forward from their previous statement in June 2012 which related only to diesel fumes.
“Our task was to evaluate the air everyone breathes rather than focus on specific air pollutants,” explains Dr Dana Loomis, Deputy Head of the Monographs Section. “The results from the reviewed studies point in the same direction: the risk of developing lung cancer is significantly increased in people exposed to air pollution.”
What is more, this statement is being made in recognition of the global failure to face up to this issue and take appropriate action. “Classifying outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans is an important step,” stresses 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.”
Air pollution is a public health crisis that has been downplayed for two long, but this stark statement must surely make governments around the world sit up and take notice.