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Risk of Air Pollution in Relation to Cancer in the Nordic Countries

image of Risk of Air Pollution in Relation to Cancer in the Nordic Countries

Seventeen pollutants (particles, heavy metals, inorganic gasses and organic compounds) are for the first time analyzed in a screening of the carcinogenic risk at very high resolution and large scale in ambient air in the Nordic countries. Modelled 2010 annual mean air concentrations show no exceedances of the EU air quality values. The only exceedance of US-EPA 1:100,000 cancer risk concentrations occurs for the PAH BaP in Denmark. However, the EU target value threshold for BaP is not exceeded. No emission data for BaP are available for the other countries and important uncertainties are still related to the Danish emissions. Long-range transport is significant except for BaP that originates mostly from residential wood combustion. It is recommended to monitor the influence from residential wood combustion more extensively, and to analyze longer time trends for long-term human exposure.

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Introduction: Air concentrations and cancer risk

The 2010 report by the U.S. Presidential Cancer Panel concluded that the estimated environmentally related cancer burden of 4–6% (WHO) is most likely a significant underestimation. Moreover the report concluded that some 40% of the total cancer burden is still unaccounted for when life-style, heredity, etc. have been uncovered. How much of these 40% can be ascribed to environmental exposures is unknown. Previous studies on the influence of chemicals via the environment have focused on a limited number of pollutants such as particles, SO2 and NOx, often as indicators for specific sources such as traffic. The pollutants act individually with specific limit values.

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