Pollution in Europe causes cancer

The European Environment Agency warned on Tuesday that about 10% of cancer cases in Europe are linked to various forms of pollution.

Pollution in Europe causes cancer

"Exposure to air pollution and second-hand smoke as well as ultraviolet radiation, asbestos and certain chemicals and other pollutants are the underlying causes of more than 10% of cancer cases in Europe," the European Agency said in a statement.

Pollution kills 9 million people each year, with Africa worst affected

That number could drop significantly if approved policies, especially those aimed at combating pollution, are strictly implemented, the agency said.

"It is possible to reduce all environmental and occupational risks that cause cancer," said Gerardo Sanchez, an expert at the European Environment Agency, before releasing the report, the agency's first to examine the link between cancer and the environment.

He said in a statement that "environment-related cancer cases, of which radiation or carcinogenic chemicals are one cause, can be reduced to a low level."

The agency's figures indicate that air pollution is responsible for 1% of cancer cases and about 2% of related deaths, rising to 9% when it comes to lung cancer.

The European Agency said recent studies have shown "an association between long-term exposure to particulate matter, which is a key air pollutant, and leukemia in children and adults.

Radon, a radioactive natural gas inhaled especially in poorly ventilated places, is responsible for 2% of cancer cases in Europe.

The European Agency pointed out that ultraviolet radiation is the main source of sunlight, but it also comes in artificial forms, responsible for about 4% of all cancer cases, especially melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer that has increased significantly in Europe in recent decades.

And some of the chemicals used in the workplace and discarded in nature are also carcinogenic.

Lead, arsenic, chromium, insecticides, bisphenol A, alkylating materials and polyfluorocarbons are among the most dangerous to the health of Europeans, in addition to asbestos, which has been banned in the European Union since 2005, although some buildings still contain it.

Each year in the European Union, 2.7 million cases of cancer are recorded, including 1.3 deaths. 

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