Toxic Air Poses Cancer Risk for Millions: EPA

A recent study by the top U.S. environmental agency finds millions of U.S. residents have an increased chance of getting cancer just by breathing, and New York residents are especially at risk.

The Environmental Protection Agency's snapshot of air pollution finds that residents in Oregon, California and here at home in New York are at the greatest risk of developing cancer from breathing toxic chemicals.

The results, compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency, represent the most sweeping analysis to date of the state of the nation's air, the EPA said.

Almost 2.2 million people lived in neighborhoods where pollution raised the risk of developing cancer to levels the government generally considers to be unacceptable, the survey found.  Many of those people — about 847,000 — lived in New York City.

Mobile emissions account for 30 percent of the pollution, industry emissions another 25 percent, and finally “background” pollutants from an unidentifiable source, account for the final 45 percent.

This data is collected from a county-by-county analysis of toxic air pollution survey called National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA). In this report, 181 of 187 known toxics and diesel particulate matter are estimated and their effects and risks from exposure to them.

“The implication for me is we still have a long way to go to reduce toxic air pollution to protect the public,” John Walke, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, told the New York Times.

This study is based on air quality from 2002. The agency has already started to work on the next analysis, which will use emissions inventory data from 2005.

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