Exposure in indoor environment increases the incidence of the lung, breast, prostate, colon and rectum cancers

Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, November 2018, Volume 1, #33

The risk of developing lung, breast, prostate, colon and rectum cancer is on the rise. Evidence in the literature suggests that the increased risk is due to the increase in the amount of indoor and outdoor sources contributing to cancer-causing chemical and biological-based air pollutants found in the indoor environment. The number of sources present and their contribution to the concentration of air pollutants will determine the hazard level in the indoor environment.

The presence of air pollutants in the indoor environment is a concern, but not the main concern. The main concern is human exposure to the air pollutants. The concentration of air pollutants in an indoor environment not occupied by human does not matter from a human health effect perspective.  Unfortunately, humans spend most of their time in the indoor environment, “cohabiting” with hazards – air pollutants. The extent of exposure and intake, concentration and toxicity of cancer-causing air pollutants and physiological and psychological conditions of exposed human will determine the vulnerability level. The higher the vulnerability and hazard, the higher the risk of having cancer.

Provision of adequate ventilation and air distribution system and the use of effective air cleaning – air filtration and purification – systems will reduce hazard and vulnerability. High priority should be given to the provision of energy efficient and healthy indoor air quality (IAQ) design, construction and maintenance, and operation practices. Unfortunately, most green building ratings and built environment professionals do not give much preference to IAQ. Such practices contribute to the high risk of developing lung, breast, prostate, colon and rectum cancers.

33_Rise in cancer incidence_IAC 33

Do you want to know more about this topic? Read Trichopoulos (1996) and Sankpal et al. (2012) papers.

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