WHO confirms air pollution as leading cause of lung cancer
By CCTV correspondent Jack Barton
BEIJING, Oct. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- The World Health Organization has confirmed what many people choking on city smog have long suspected, that air pollution is a leading cause of lung cancer. The news will alarm billions of people in emerging economies, where the problem is often acute. But the announcement also coincides with a report this week revealing 400,000 Europeans are dying each year because of air pollution.
The World Health Organization’s cancer research arm says that after years of investigation and thousands of scientific papers the evidence is now indisputable.
"Outdoor air pollution is carcinogenic to humans, which makes this an IARC Group 1 carcinogen." said Dr. Dana Loomis, Int'l Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO.
In terms of danger, air pollution now ranks alongside asbestos, tobacco and UV radiation. It continues to be a major problem in emerging economies. But a new report shows that it is a killer even in the EU, which prides itself on tough efforts to eradicate air pollution.
"Approximately 400,000 people die early each year in Europe just due to air pollution, and this has also a cost in terms of extra medication, hospitalization and millions of lost working days". said Louise Duprez, Policy Officer, European Environmental Bureau.
Europe’s problem is fine air particles, which rarely manifest as heavy smog and remain largely an invisible menace. A report released this week reveals 90 percent of city dwellers are subject to levels considered dangerous by the WHO.
The European Environmental Agency says it’s not just the cities, but also some rural areas that have significant levels of air pollution.
"The main driving forces are transport, cars and busses and trucks, obviously we have the burning of fossil fuels and this can be in industry and energy systems and we also have agriculture". said Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Dir., European Environmental Agency.
After decades of strenuous efforts to cut emissions Europe’s problem highlights challenges elsewhere.
"Air pollution is probably even more of an issue in Asia, in Africa and Latin America at this moment". said Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Dir., European Environmental Agency.
The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates there were 220,000 air pollution related lung cancers deaths worldwide in 2010. The agency lists India and China as having the world’s most polluted cities, but environmental officials hope the new report will lead to greater reduction efforts around the globe.