Air Pollution Officially Causes Cancer

So much for urban bike commuters

Oct 17, 2013
Outside Magazine

More than 220,000 lung cancer deaths in 2010 were because of air pollution, says the IARC. The new finding is expected to spur governments to impose stricter pollution regulations.    Kodda/Shutterstock

On Thursday, the World Health Organization officially added air pollution to the list of leading causes of cancer worldwide.

"We consider [air pollution] to be the most important environmental carcinogen, more so than passive smoking," said Kurt Straif, head of the International Agency for Research on Cancer department that detects cancer-causing substances.

Unfortunately, the agency had few recommendations for how we should indiviually deal with the new classification. "When I walk on a street where there's heavy pollution from diesel exhaust," Straif told NBC News, "I try to go a bit further away. So that's something you can do." 

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