Environmental pollution and industrial carcinogenes

The discovery of smoking tobacco as a factor being strongly associated with lung cancer (more than 85% of lung cancers occur among smokers), has further emphasized the definition of other external factors that could probable cause cancer (that are termed "carcinogenes") (American Cancer Society, 2007, as cited in Majnaric-Trtica, 2009; Pearce, 1996, as cited in Majnaric-Trtica, 2009).

Accordingly, at least 150 chemicals and other agents, including ionizing radiation, occupational (workplace) and environmental airborne particles, some drugs, as well as foods and other consumer products, have been listed so far by IARC, as potential carcinogens (American Cancer Society, 2007, as cited in Majnaric-Trtica, 2009; WHO, 2009). It is estimated, for example, that occupational exposure to microscopic airborne particles accounts for 8% of lung cancer, that is the most frequent form of occupational cancer (compared to 12% of deaths due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) (WHO, 2009). The encouraging fact is, however, that the majority of occupational cancers can be prevented, through minimising exposure, substituting safer materials, and/or enclosing processes and ventilation. These all are measures within the domain of engineering manipulation, and policy and legislation changes (WHO, 2009).

Trends which deserve particular concern of the scientists, policy-makers and the public as a whole, are based on the growing number of evidence showing that long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution is the risk factor which can contribute to overall and especially to specific respiratory and cardiovascular mortality in general population (Brunekreef et al., 2009). Even some consumer products, including food, cosmetics and household cleaners, owing to their overall use, are among the most significant sources of exposure to toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. Higher level of awareness is the first step to tackle more adequate legislation and adversiting options, as well as technology innovations (American Cancer Society, 2007, as cited in Majnaric-Trtica, 2009; WHO, 2009).

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