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03 March 2020 - Air Pollution Lung Cancer

Does air pollution cause lung conditions?
Yes, research suggests that long-term exposure to air pollution can contribute to the development of some lung conditions. There’s good evidence that outdoor air pollution contributes to lung cancer, and it’s possible that long-term exposure to air pollution is linked to the development of asthma. It’s unclear yet whether UK levels of outdoor air pollution have a role in causing COPD, but in the UK air pollution is a smaller risk factor than smoking.
Research also shows that if children are exposed to air pollution for a long period of time, it can affect how their lungs develop.
Every year in the UK, it’s estimated that the equivalent of 40,000 early deaths can be linked to breathing in polluted air.
Understanding air pollution statistics
• estimated: We don’t know exactly how many early deaths are linked to air pollution. The estimate of 40,000 comes from a 2016 report by the Royal College of Physicians. It’s based on the government’s estimates of early deaths from particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide.
• equivalent: 40,000 early deaths is an average across the UK population. It helps show the health impact of air pollution. The effects of air pollution are complex – it will impact people differently depending on their health. For example, it can make existing illnesses worse.
• early deaths: The 40,000 figure refers to the number of people dying earlier than they should. Usually this means before the age of 75.
• linked: Air pollution doesn’t cause deaths on its own. Most of the early deaths will be caused by an existing heart or lung condition, but air pollution may have made the condition worse.

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