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Air Pollution and Cancer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's National Air Toxics Assessment has shown that living in heavily industrialized areas where air pollution is a way of life, increases the risk of developing cancer. The EPA, which// estimated the risk of developing cancer by calculating how many cancer cases could result if a million people in a particular area breathed in the same polluted air 24 hours a day for 70 years.

The agency said that even a score of 1 in a million would be a huge cause for concern. The EPSA analysis showed that it was not hue industries, but smaller commercial establishments like gas stations and dry cleaning shops that were spewing in toxic chemicals. The national risk of developing cancer as a result of air pollution was 1 to 25 in a million, while Indiana's average risk was 33 in a million. "The EPA data (show) we are exposing a large fraction of the American population to levels of various pollutants that exceed acceptable thresholds, and re-emphasizes that there really needs to be careful public discussion and debate on this issue," said Dr. Stephen Jay, chairman of the Indiana University School of Medicine's department of public health. He added that the risk basically boils down to "a question of human health on the one hand and the cost and trouble of controlling pollution." The EPA study also noted that diesel exhaust is thought to pose the greatest danger to health.

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