THE BLOG

SPOILER ALERT: Air Pollution is bad for you.

10/19/2013 10:16 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

This may come as no surprise to many of you left-leaning "loons", who believe in things like climate-change, science and...math, but air pollution has been linked to lung cancer.

Yes, the mainstream media, also known as the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), officially announced outdoor air pollution as a Group 1 carcinogen. The same group which houses such killers as Asbestos, Mustard Gas, sunlamps and tanning beds, and tobacco products.

Air pollution, already having been linked to increased risks of various respiratory and heart diseases, has now been thoroughly reviewed by scientific experts (not political pundits), has been linked to 223,000 lung cancer related deaths worldwide in 2010.

This particular topic hits particularly close to home for me, as my father passed away from lung cancer almost 2 years ago. Full disclosure though, he also smoked for the better half of his life.

However, I do not think society has been as intentionally naïve with the effects of first and second hand smoke as it has been with air pollution. I do not know of a place in this province where someone could smoke inside of a public space; and municipalities are making it much harder to smoke on outdoor patios as well. Needless to say, smokers do not attempt to minimize the effects of smoking, nor are tobacco manufacturers able to market their products freely.

Taking a moment to observe our surroundings, the alleged use of mustard gas was one of the catalysts for international intervention in Syria, politicians continue to legislate against the use of tanning beds (especially by youth), and the Canadian federal government has undertaken several asbestos removal projects in some of their older buildings. We obviously "get it"; things that cause cancer are bad.

So what makes "air pollution" so different? Well, some may question the concept's legitimacy, like dinosaur fossils, or even suggest conflicting expert opinion on the subject.

Well, no doctor I know, or politician for that matter, smokes a pack a day, living in their 3-storey asbestos- laden homes, going on tanning dates with "Tan Mom". John Boehner only has time to do one out of the four (it would have been two, but I think he prefers to tan alone). But other than Mr. Boehner, you will not find too many wanting to be exposed to that sort of risk. And neither should we.

The good news is that even the experts think there is hope, and acknowledge that there are effective ways to reduce air pollution (see Nature of Things etc.). IARC has even gone as far as indicating that their latest report should send the international community a "strong signal" to "take action without further delay"; think of it as a giant warning label on the cigarette pack that is air. Hopefully the font is big enough.

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