BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — An arm of World Health Organization (WHO) last week released a report on air pollution with some dire warnings. Based on data collected in 2010, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that more than 220,000 people died that year from lung cancer resulting from toxic air pollution.
We’ve long known that air pollution, such as that released into the atmosphere by power plants and industry, was linked to lung disease, asthma, increased risk for heart disease, and other deadly health outcomes. This is the first time, however, that the WHO has released a study asserting that the air we breathe causes lung cancer. Specifically, air pollution and “particulate matter” (a component of pollution) are now classified among Group 1 human carcinogens.
The agency also said that the data showed that their findings were similar to what they’ve found about breathing second-hand smoke.
In a statement to the media, Dana Loomis, deputy head of the IARC, said, “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.”
We have an obligation here in Alabama to do everything we can to ensure that our residents and workers are protected from dangerous, cancer-causing air. Everyone deserves the right to breathe clean air.
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Michael joined GASP in 2013 as communications specialist. He has lived in Birmingham since 2008, and is an active member of the Birmingham community. He’s a passionate advocate for health equity, civil rights and equality. He is currently serving as executive director. Email Michael