WHO Encourages a Global Effort to Instill Regulation and Clean the Air After Classifying Outdoor Air Pollution as Cancer Risk
Outdoor air pollution is officially classified as a carcinogen, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization. WHO came to the conclusion air pollution is cancer-causing after evaluating more than 1,000 scientific publications and reviewing significant evidence connecting particulate exposure and lung cancer. Approximately 223,000 of the global population died of lung cancer in 2010 and WHO expects this rate will increase with the rising amount of particulate matter in the air. Air pollution also increases the risk of developing heart and respiratory diseases as well as bladder cancer, according to ABC News.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of WHO responsible for cancer research, said air pollution is not only the most prevalent cause of cancer risk in the environment but also the worst.
Kurt Straif, head of the IARC department that analyzes carcinogens, said the air people breathe in becomes mixed with cancer-causing substances, which can include gases and particulate matter. One of the major risks of air pollution is having fine particles that can become embedded deep within the lungs.
“The predominant sources of outdoor air pollution are transportation, stationary power generation, industrial and agricultural emissions, and residential heating and cooking,” the IARC stated in the report. “There are effective ways to reduce air pollution and, given the scale of the exposure affecting people worldwide, this report should send a strong signal to the international community to take action without further delay.”
IARC encourages the international community to adopt stricter limits of pollution and for governments to enact public policy to reduce emissions of particulates and other potential harmful substances.
How the Manufacturing Sector Can Help Improve Air Quality
IARC suggests the main way to prevent this rising cancer rate is to clean the air, according to CNN. The manufacturing sector is reported to contribute to the widespread air pollution, which puts developing countries that are in the process of industrializing at the most risk. Manufacturers can help improve air quality through removing contaminants at the source with fume extractors, which will help maintain air quality of indoor facilities to make it safer for workers. Installing air purification systems will help extract pollutants that mix with outdoor air, including hazardous fumes, gases and particulates, before they make their way outside facilities. Portable air cleaners are also effective in removing airborne contaminants before they enter the lungs of employees, which could mean the difference between developing health problems later on.