Pollution has destructive effects on our health.

It is linked to more than 10% of cancers in Europe, the European Environment Agency (EEA) warned on Tuesday.

In a press release, the organization points in particular to “exposure to air pollution, passive smoking, ultraviolet rays, asbestos, certain chemicals and other pollutants”.

📢🆕#EEAcancerreport out!

#airpollution, 2ndhand #smoking, #radon, #ultravioletradiation, #asbestos... causes over 10% of all #cancer cases in Europe.

& We can prevent them!#beatingcancer@FriendsofEurope @EU_Health @EU_ENV @VSinkevicius @SKyriakidesEU https://t.co/lXBiqXUfMn pic.twitter.com/2l81KVdEmV

— EU EnvironmentAgency (@EUEnvironment) June 28, 2022

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Not a fatality

However, this figure could drastically decrease if existing policies are rigorously implemented, according to the agency.

"All environmental and occupational carcinogenic risks can be reduced," said Gerardo Sanchez, an expert from the EEA, ahead of the publication of the report, the agency's first on the link between cancer and the environment.

"Cancers determined by the environment and due to radiation or chemical carcinogens can be reduced to an almost negligible level", he assured during a press briefing.

According to agency data, air pollution is responsible for 1% of cases and about 2% of deaths – a share that rises to 9% for lung cancer.

Recent studies have also detected "a correlation between long-term exposure to particulate matter, a major air pollutant, and leukemia in adults and children", underlines the European organization.

Radon, a natural radioactive gas likely to be inhaled especially in poorly ventilated housing, is considered to be responsible for 2% of cancer cases on the continent.

Watch out for ultraviolet rays

According to the European agency, ultraviolet radiation – of mainly solar but also artificial origin – is responsible for almost 4% of all cancer cases, in particular melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer which has increased sharply in Europe in recent decades.

Some chemicals used in the workplace and released into the environment are also carcinogenic.

Lead, arsenic, chromium, pesticides, bisphenol A and per- and polyfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) are among the most dangerous to the health of Europeans, along with asbestos, banned since 2005 in the EU but still present in some buildings.

In the EU, 2.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year and 1.3 million of them die from it.

The continent, which represents barely 10% of the world's population, accounts for 23% of new cases and 20% of deaths.


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