The cancer arm of the World Health Organisation has officially classified air pollution as a carcinogenic.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer announced Thursday there is “sufficient evidence” to conclude that breathing outdoor air causes lung cancer and an increased risk for bladder cancer.
“The air we breathe has become polluted with a mixture of cancer-causing substances,” says Kurt Straif, head of the IARC Monographs Section. “We now know that outdoor air pollution is not only a major risk to health in general, but also a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths.”
In 2010, 223,000 people died of lung cancer as a result of poor air quality, according to the report.
The agency says that, while pollution levels vary widely from country to country, the risks apply to all regions of the world.
The carcinogenic classification is based on an independent review of more than 1000 studies conducted on five continents. The research identified traffic, power stations, industrial and agricultural emissions and residential heating and cooking as the dominant sources of pollution.
Running can help fight the inflammation and stress pollution places on the lungs. But because runners take in large amounts of air, often through the mouth, which bypasses the nose’s natural filters, we’re also vulnerable to pollution’s damaging health effects. To minimise your risk, experts suggest, run in the morning when air quality tends to better, or head out at lunch rather than during rush hour. And if the air quality index in your area is greater than 100, hit the treadmill.