outdoor air carcinogenic

WHO’s classification of outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic

WHO’s classification of outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic

WHO’s classification of outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic calls for more effective filtration in building ventilation systems

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – a specialized agency of the World Health Organization (WHO) – has announced there is convincing evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer. IARC has also classified a major component of outdoor air pollution – particulate matter (PM) – as carcinogenic. Although both the composition and levels of air pollution can vary dramatically from one location to the next, the cancer agency says that its conclusions apply to all regions of the world.

In a statement, Magnus Yngen, President and CEO of the Camfil Group, made the following comment about IARC’s conclusion:

“It is now officially recognized that outdoor air pollution contains cancer-causing substances, which sends a clear signal to policymakers around the world to improve the quality of the air we breathe in cities where severe air pollution impacts human health and life negatively. However, improving indoor air quality is just as important. To protect occupants in polluted cities, a three-pronged strategy is needed for urban buildings: effective particle and molecular gas filters in air handling units, elimination or control of indoor pollution and, when necessary, supplementary air cleaning with standalone filtration units to deal with special air-quality problems at the source. Without a comprehensive filtration approach, unclean outdoor air supplied through ventilation systems can mix with indoor sources and become up to 50 times more polluted.”

IARC’s conclusion that air pollution is carcinogenic comes in the wake of earlier announcements by WHO and several studies published in The Lancet journals about the negative effects of air pollution – how it increases the risk of heart failure and lung disease and can reduce the birthweight of infants.

Particulate matter can cause cancer

IARC now ranks particle pollution – particulate matter – as a cause of cancer, classifying it as a Group 1 human carcinogen along with 100 other known substances. The agency has already classified many chemicals and mixtures that can be components of air pollution, including diesel engine exhaust, solvents, metals and dusts.

“Today, we know that air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer even at levels lower than those recommended by the EU for particulate matter: 25 μg/m3 for PM2.5, a size fraction reflecting extremely small particles, and 40 μg/m3 for PM10, which are coarser but still very small. But the recommended European limit is still higher than WHO’s guideline of 10 μg/m3 for total PM2.5, even when WHO has found no safe level of human exposure down to 8 μg/m3 or below,”
says Mikael Forslund, PhD, Tech Expert in Molecular Filtration at Camfil.

Both fine and coarse particles can accumulate in the respiratory system. Exhaust from motor vehicle engines, especially diesel exhaust fumes, are one of the biggest sources of the finer and more dangerous PM2.5 particles, which can penetrate the lungs into the bloodstream and cause health issues in other organs. Much smaller molecules from harmful gases, such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and ozone, can also penetrate into the bloodstream. This is a potential health threat for people living and working in cities with high traffic density.

Effective air filters stop air pollution at the door

“If the ventilation system is not equipped with effective air filters, harmful particles and gases in polluted outdoor air can penetrate the indoor environment and mix with a variety of other indoor pollutants that may be present, such as radon, tobacco smoke, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and biological pollutants,” says Mikael Forslund.

He continues:

“Highly efficient air filtration systems stop these pollutants ‘at the door’. People in city centres cannot limit their exposure to outdoor air pollution, but they should be able to choose to work and live in buildings with recognized high indoor air quality (IAQ). Building owners should consider the added value of good air filtration for their properties, and employers should understand that high IAQ helps reduce sick rates and also boosts productivity, as shown by a number of studies.”

Keeping the city out

To “keep the city out”, Camfil recommends products like its Hi-Flo™ series of filters high particle removal efficiency and air filters like City-Flo XL™, CityCarb™, City-Flo™ and CitySorb™ to maintain high IAQ in buildings situated along streets and roads with heavy traffic. “City” filters effectively control ozone and semi-volatile organic compounds (sVOCs), including PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) from outdoor air and internal source pollutants outgassed by materials.

In addition to their high energy-efficiency and ratings for removing sVOCs and ozone, City filters require no modifications to air handling units for installation.

New mobile unit with molecular filtration

When ventilation systems in urban environments are not equipped with City filters, Camfil offers customers other solutions, such as the new CamCleaner City – a mobile air purifier with three-stage filtration to remove particle and gaseous pollutants in indoor spaces.

Due to its size and small footprint, CamCleaner units can be easily placed almost anywhere in facilities and premises to solve acute or persistent IAQ issues in buildings in city centres. It is the only standalone air cleaner on the market that can filter any kind of pollutant, including inert particles, microorganisms, allergens, sVOCs and small and large particles.

For further information please contact: Mikael Forslund, PhD, Tech Expert in Molecular Filtration at Camfil:
e-mail: mikael.forslund@camfil.se
phone: +46 156 53 600


(19) 3847-8810 sac@camfil.com

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