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EPA – Two Million Americans Face Cancer Risk From Toxic Air

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Thursday, June 25, 2009 1:38 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Protecting Your Family, Air Pollution, Particulates in the Air, Toxic Substances, EPA, Cancer, Public Health, Air Quality


IMAGE SOURCE: USA Today / EPA National Air Toxic Assessment

A newly released report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveals the average American has a cancer risk of 36 in 1 million if exposed to toxic air pollution.

Some 2 million Americans are said to have an increased cancer risk greater than 100 in 1 million, because of exposure to contaminants such as benzene.

Air toxins are worrisome because they are known to or suspected of causing cancer and other serious health problems, including birth defects.

The data is based on emissions from 2002, and includes 180 air toxins such as pollutants from auto emissions, oil refineries, and wildfires among other things from across the nation. Anything over 100 in a million is considered unacceptable by the EPA.

The EPA uses The National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment, or NATA, to identify parts of the country where residents could face the greatest health threats from air pollution.

According to the assessment, air pollution was greater in major cities such as New York and Los Angeles – although some rural areas in Kentucky and Mississippi were even worse.

The report shows about 862,000 New Yorkers live in so-called "high risk" areas for developing cancer, from breathing the air over the course of their lifetimes. The single worst neighborhood lays between two freeways in Cerritos, California, just outside of Los Angeles, where the estimated cancer risk is more than 1,200 in 1 million – 34 times the national average. #

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