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EXHAUST PIPES - The fumes from car exhausts kills us slowly when we burn it and release the carcinogens into the atmosphere to create smogs. We might as well be smoking.
When you think of risk factors for lung cancer, what comes to mind?
Most of us think about the risk associated with smoking cigarettes, but did you know that air pollution can also cause lung cancer?
Overwhelming evidence shows that particle pollution in the outdoor air we breathe - like that coming from vehicle exhausts, coal-fired power plants and other industrial sources - can cause lung cancer.
To prevent new cancers from starting, scientists look at risk factors and protective factors. Anything that increases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer risk factor; anything that decreases your chance of developing cancer is called a cancer protective factor.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet may be protective factors for some types of cancer. Avoiding risk factors and increasing protective factors may lower your risk but it does not mean that you will not get cancer.
- Drive an electric car and tell others about exhaust fumes
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and foods with B vitamins
- Take exercise and avoid overly rich carcinogenic foods
Move out of the city
Remember Hinkley, California and PG&E, put yourself at risk as to any carcinogen and the chances are that your will get sick. Equally, those responsible for making you ill, will do all they can to deny it.
Air pollution levels tend to be higher in UK towns and cities. So why would anyone live there? The answer to that is they need the work and the money - so are prepared to accept the risk of a shorter life and painful death. And of course it costs more to live in the country, where there are no affordable houses. Councils like Wealden make sure of that.
Air pollution is a killer and the level of toxins can lead to several health conditions. Apart from severe respiratory conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cardiovascular problems and hypertension, stroke, impaired mental health, anxiety, low birth weight babies, pre-term delivery and depression, air pollution can also be linked to cancer.
Pollutants in the air are absorbed into the circulatory system and pumped all around the body. They can also get deposited on soil, water, and other natural sources, increasing human exposure. In a recent meta-analysis, it was found that exposure to the main air pollutants is associated with increased mortality from all cancers1. For instance, radon, which is a radioactive gas, that can accumulate indoors is one of the leading risk factors for lung cancer.
How Much Does it Raise Risk?
Urban vs. Rural
Studies of geographical differences in the risk of lung cancer reveal that lung cancer is more common in urban areas and less common in rural areas, and this is to be expected.
It's clear that air pollution is an important risk factor for lung cancer, but what exactly is it in air pollution that causes the damage that can lead to cancer?
Particle pollution: It's thought that particle pollution is most important as far as being a risk factor for lung cancer. Air born particles can be comprised of both chemical and biological matter and include both solid and liquid particles.
Sources of the compounds found in air pollution include vehicle exhaust, coal burning for heat or cooking, forest fires, diesel exhaust, power plants, wood stoves, and emissions from industrial and agricultural sources. Components can include both inorganic (metals) and organic chemicals, soil, and dust.
Particle Size and Risk
The size of particles in air pollution is very important in their role in cancer. It is the small particles (those less than 2.5 microns in diameter and less) that are of most concern. These particles cannot be seen by the human eye.
The first step in reducing risk is to understand if you are at risk. Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency offers a tool called AirNow. With this tool, you learn about the air quality in your area based on your zip code.
The formation of smog is hazardous to your health especially if you live in a big sunny city.
The Formation of Smog
Photochemical smog (or just smog for short) is a term used to describe air pollution that is a result of the interaction of sunlight with certain chemicals in the atmosphere. One of the primary components of photochemical smog is ozone. While ozone in the stratosphere protects earth from harmful UV radiation, ozone on the ground is hazardous to human health. Ground-level ozone is formed when vehicle emissions containing nitrogen oxides (primarily from vehicle exhaust) and volatile organic compounds (from paints, solvents, and fuel evaporation) interact in the presence of sunlight. Therefore, some of the sunniest cities are also some of the most polluted.
Smog and Your Health
Finding the link
The second mechanism could possibly involve inflammation. In a study, it was found that in-haled gaseous and particulate pollutants trigger an increase in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body. This increases the risk of gastric cancer and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Thus, inflammation can result in mortality due to cancer over time in exposed individuals.
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