How Dangerous Is Air Pollution?

Air pollution is even more dangerous than smoking in terms of causing cancer, according to 2013 conclusions from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancers (IARC). Outdoor air pollution as a whole is considered a carcinogen more harmful than cigarette smoking because of the unavoidable nature of breathing in polluted air on a regular basis from sources such as power plants, transportation, and agricultural and industrial emissions. Air pollution caused approximately 3.2 million deaths in 2010, including 223,000 from lung cancer, according to estimates from WHO.

More about air pollution:

  • Pregnant women exposed to high levels of air pollution were found to be 22% more likely to have premature babies, according to a research study of European women from 1994 through 2011.
  • WHO estimates that about 25% of all stroke deaths worldwide are attributed to indoor air pollution, such as burning solid fuels indoors for heat or cooking.
  • Over 65,000 Americans are estimated to have heart attacks or other cardiac events as a result of exposure to air pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
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Discussion Comments


If anyone remembers back in the mid 70"s when all the hippies were protesting what corporations were doing to the air, they should also remember that when Surgeon General Koop started his anti-smoking campaign, he was a political Surgeon General and this was a diversion to take everyone's attention away from what corporations were doing and it worked. It was the biggest hoax that anyone ever pulled on a mass population and it still works today.


In relation to the first bullet point, air pollution can especially be dangerous if a woman is pregnant. Even more so, not just to you, but to the baby as well. They're still growing on the inside, and anything that happens to you can affect them as well.


Based on my experience, air pollution is a lot more dangerous depending on where you live. For example, if you happen to live in a secluded area (such as a quiet neighborhood or the woods), it won't be that much of a problem. However, if you happen to live in a place such as New York City, the pollution is everywhere. From the endless transportation, to people smoking cigarettes, to nearby factories, you're a lot more prone to the effects and symptoms.


When the article mentions that inhaling air pollution is more dangerous than smoking, I think one of the reasons why is because air pollution is a lot more constant. When someone is smoking, at least they're able to take breaks in between the activity. On the other hand, let's say that you're working in a polluted factory. The fact that you're constantly inhaling toxins certainly doesn't help.

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