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Chin J Cancer. 2014 Apr;33(4):189-96. doi: 10.5732/cjc.014.10028.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluation of the carcinogenicity of outdoor air pollution: focus on China.

Author information

1
International Agency for Research on Cancer, Cours Albert Thomas, Lyon 69008, France. loomisd@iarc.fr.

Abstract

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified outdoor air pollution and the particulate matter (PM) in outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans, as based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and experimental animals and strong support by mechanistic studies. The data with important contributions to the evaluation are reviewed, highlighting the data with particular relevance to China, and implications of the evaluation with respect to China are discussed. The air pollution levels in Chinese cities are among the highest observed in the world today and frequently exceed health-based national and international guidelines. Data from high-quality epidemiologic studies in Asia, Europe, and North America consistently show positive associations between lung cancer and PM exposure and other indicators of air pollution, which persist after adjustment for important lung cancer risk factors, such as tobacco smoking. Epidemiologic data from China are limited but nevertheless indicate an increased risk of lung cancer associated with several air pollutants. Excess cancer risk is also observed in experimental animals exposed to polluted outdoor air or extracted PM. The exposure of several species to outdoor air pollution is associated with markers of genetic damage that have been linked to increased cancer risk in humans. Numerous studies from China, especially genetic biomarker studies in exposed populations, support that the polluted air in China is genotoxic and carcinogenic to humans. The evaluation by IARC indicates both the need for further research into the cancer risks associated with exposure to air pollution in China and the urgent need to act to reduce exposure to the population.

PMID:
24694836
PMCID:
PMC3975184
DOI:
10.5732/cjc.014.10028
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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