Almost 10% of cancers in Europe are related to pollution in its various forms, warns the European Environment Agency (EEA), which highlights that most cases are preventable. “Exposure to air pollution, passive smoking, ultraviolet rays, asbestos, certain chemicals and other pollutants are responsible for more than 10% of cancer cases in Europe,” the European agency said in a statement. press.
However, this figure could drop dramatically if existing policies are rigorously implemented, according to the organization. “All environmental and occupational carcinogenic risks can be reduced,” said Gerardo Sánchez, an EEA expert, ahead of the publication of the report, the agency’s first on the link between cancer and the environment. “Cancers determined by the environment and due to radiation or chemical carcinogens can be reduced to an almost negligible level,” he assured during a press conference.
According to data from the agency, air pollution is responsible for 1% of cases and about 2% of deaths, a proportion that rises to 9% in the case of lung cancer. Recent studies have also detected “a correlation between long-term exposure to particulate matter, a major air pollutant, and leukemia in adults and children,” stresses the European organization. Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas that can be inhaled especially in poorly ventilated homes, is thought to be responsible for 2% of cancer cases on the continent.
According to the European agency, ultraviolet rays -mainly of solar origin but also artificial- are responsible for almost 4% of all cancer cases, in particular melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer that has increased considerably in Europe in The last decades. Some chemicals used in the workplace and released into the environment are also carcinogenic. Lead, arsenic, chromium, pesticides, bisphenol A and perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) are among the most dangerous for the health of Europeans, along with asbestos, banned since 2005 in the EU but still present in some buildings.
In the EU, 2.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year and 1.3 million of them die from it. The continent, which represents just 10% of the world’s population, has 23% of new cases and 20% of deaths.