Some studies suggest that certain cancers are linked to pollution – particularly lung cancer and possibly breast cancer. We still need more studies to be done to prove these links are definite, though.
I guess the question really is, does pollution cause cancer and the answer most certainly is yes in some cases. For example, a fire fighter is at a much higher risk to develop lung cancer as the the smoke (a pollutant) is near them much more often. Same with cigarettes, even if one chooses to smoke they are ina sense polluting their own body.
We often think of air pollution, however, as outside air polluting our bodies due to gas and diesel fumes and factories and such. The EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has done research in the area of indoor pollution as well. The EPA states that the most common type of indoor pollution is radon which can be found in most any home. It generally comes form the breakdown of the rock and soil that the home was built on and any home is susceptible. High levels of radon ARE said to be linked to lung cancer. Radon can also be found in well water and breathing air conditioning radon.
So how do you know how much radon is in your home? The EPA suggests buying a certified state test kit which is simple and easy to read or hiring a state certified technician.
The second most common form of cancer related to pollution is breast cancer. Science Daily has done significant research on this link and concluded that pollution due to traffic related sources IS linked to breast cancer. The study created air pollution maps and then looked at how close in proximity woman diagnosed with breast cancer lived. “Their findings were startling. The incidence of breast cancer was clearly higher in areas with higher levels of air pollution.”
All of this seems scary and startling. I think taking a step back and just doing what you can makes a big difference. For example, drive less or carpool. Don’t smoke. Use all safety equipment when in an environment that has pollutants such as a contractor or fire fighter.
The answer to your question is yes.
Erin Brokovich comes to mind, a tenacious pollution fighting woman made famous by the Julia Roberts movie. In real life Erin Brokovich has dedicated her life to punishing corporations that risk the health of their community, many by leaking pollution into surrounding groundwater, correlating and possibly causing a higher rate of cancer. There is some question that she goes more on “gut feeling” than numbers, but she argues that the agencies available to give numbers are underfunded and understaffed, and sometimes common sense and the community there to experience it are the only numbers necessary.
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