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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

600 Communities Have Elevated Cancer Risk Due To Air

According to EPA's National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment millions of Americans living in nearly 600 neighborhoods across the country are breathing concentrations of toxic air pollutants that put them at a much greater risk of contracting cancer. The EPA added the cancer risks from all air toxics compounds listed as carcinogenic or likely carcinogenic to humans. More than 284 million people live in census tracts where the combined upper bound lifetime cancer risk from these compounds exceeded 10 in one million risk and more than 2 million people live in census tracts where the combined upper bound lifetime cancer risk from these compounds exceeded 100 in one million risk. The overall national average risk in the U.S. is 36 in a million.

Parts of Los Angeles, California and Madison County, Illinois had the highest cancer risks in the nation — 1200 in 1 million and 1100 in 1 million, according to the EPA data. They were followed by two neighborhoods in Allegheny County, Pa., and one in Tuscaloosa County, Ala. People living in parts of Coconino County, Ariz., and Lyon County, Nev., had the lowest cancer risk from air toxics. The counties with the least toxic air are Kalawao County, Hawaii, and Golden Valley County, Mont.

The analysis predicts the concentrations of 124 different hazardous air pollutants, which are known to cause cancer, respiratory problems and other health effects by coupling estimates of emissions from a variety of sources with models that attempt to simulate how the pollution will disperse in the air. The information is used by federal, state and local agencies to identify areas in need of more monitoring and attention. (AP)

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