You are breathing in toxins which may cause cancers every day, more than you might have expected.
Health problems caused by toxins in the air include cancer, respiratory irritation, nervous system problems, and birth defects. Some symptoms may occur very soon after a person inhales a toxic air pollutant. Others, however, may only appear after years of exposure to the toxic air pollutant. Cancer is an example of a delayed health problem.
The story of Ann Singley
Ann Singley, a 33 mother with a youngest child of only 3, was diagnosed as stage III breast cancer after she discovered a hard lump in her breast in 2007.
At about that time, scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had just begun a 10-year study on the risks of ethylene oxide, a chemical used for sterilizing medical products and is released directly in the air.
The result revealed in 2016 astonished everyone: ethylene oxide was far more dangerous than scientists had realized before. The agency moved it from a list of chemicals that probably could cause cancer to another list of those that definitely caused cancer.
That is exactly the chemical Singley had breathed in from a chemical company which sterilizes medical devices located just half a mile from her home.
Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) made maps which show the levels of released chemicals where health risks begin to rise. In Covington, concentrations of ethylene oxide in neighborhoods around the plant range from 17 to 97 times of the acceptable area concentration (AAC).
“So what do I need to do? Move?” Said Cargile, 59, living in Covington with her two grandsons.
However, ethylene oxide is not the only toxin in the air.
Indoor and outdoor air pollution
People are exposed to great danger of having cancer and other diseases. Even if you live far away from factories, medical companies, and other places which may release toxins, you are still in danger because of diesel engine exhaust, solvents, metals, and dust.
Outdoor air pollution
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a part of the World Health Organization, has classified outdoor air pollution as a cancer-causing agent (carcinogen) which can increase the risks of lung cancer and bladder cancer.
Many components of outdoor air have been classified as carcinogen, but this is the first time that outdoor air pollution is considered as carcinogen as a whole.
Another component was also identified as a carcinogen: particulate matter, which is a combination of extremely small solid particles and liquid droplets that are found in the air including dust, smoke, and chemicals.
“The air we breathe is filled with cancer-causing substances.” Said Kurt Straif, head of the IARC Monographs Section.
According to the IARC, the predominant artificial sources of outdoor air pollution include:
Stationary power generation
Industrial and agricultural emissions
Residential heating and cooking
Indoor air pollution
Sources of indoor air pollutants include:
Molds and bacteria
VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) released from furnishings and building materials
Chemical fumes from paints and solvents
Chemicals from cleaning products
Outdoor air pollutants
Cigarette and tobacco smoke
Animal hair and dander
Gases, including Radon, seeping in from foundations
Research has indicated that the indoor air in our homes, offices or other buildings may be more polluted than the outdoor air. Considering that most people spend about 90% time indoor, it’s essential to lower the pollution in our living environment.
Symptoms of air pollution
If you have these symptoms, pay attention to the possibility of breathing in toxic air.
Worsening asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems
Headaches and nausea
Shortness of breath
Sinus congestion, sneezing and cough
Eye, skin, nose and throat irritations
Memory loss, dizziness, fatigue and depression