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Continuing pollution restrictions used during Beijing Olympics could reduce cancer rates


During the 2008 Olympics, Chinese officials enforced certain restrictions on emissions to clean up Beijing's air quality. Now a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives shows that maintaining these pollution controls could significantly reduce the lifetime risk of lung cancer for residents in China's capitol city.

In the study (subscription required), researchers analyzed levels of 17 carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) before, during and after the Olympic Games. According to a release:

Research found that in Beijing, a metropolitan area with 22 million people, the existing level of PAH pollution would lead to about 21,200 lifetime cases of lung cancer, but that would drop to 11,400 cases if pollution controls similar to those imposed during the 2008 Olympics were sustained.

Previous reports indicate ambient air pollution alone results in hundreds of thousands of deaths annually in China and made cancer the country's leading cause of death. This year, China took steps to cut vehicles' exhausts and to tackle the high-polluting industries such as paper-making, textiles and chemical plants.

Photo by David Barrie

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