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World Health Organization says air pollution causes cancer

The Associated Press is reporting that the World Health Organization (WHO) is declaring – what many of us who spend our days in traffic choking on smog or who live near a power plant or other industrial facility have long suspected but now has finally been scientifically validated – air pollution causes lung cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization based in Lyon, France, declared  that air pollution is a carcinogen, alongside known dangers such as asbestos, tobacco and ultraviolet radiation. The decision came after a consultation by an expert panel organized by IARC declared air pollution an important environmental carcinogen, more so than passive smoking.

IARC had previously deemed some of the components in air pollution such as diesel fumes to be carcinogens, but this is the first time it has classified air pollution in its entirety as cancer causing.

The risk to the individual is low according to their statement, but main sources of pollution are widespread, including transportation, power plants, and industrial and agricultural emissions, and they are difficult for individuals to avoid.

WHO and the European Commission are reviewing their recommended limits on air pollution. Previously, pollution had been found to boost the chances of heart and respiratory diseases, but the recent analysis of more than 1,000 studies worldwide points to enough evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution is now considered to cause lung cancer and WHO will review their recommended limits on air pollution based on these new findings.

Click here to read the NBC news story on this new finding.