Even if you don't smoke if you live in an urban congested area that has fine particle air pollution you have an elevated risk of lung cancer, heart disease and cardiac events. Chronic exposure raises the risk of all three.
How can you protect yourself?
The largest study to date examined the links between air pollution and the impact on your heart and lungs. The results were dramatic. If you're close to air pollution your risk of cancer goes way up. I know that in my area of Rockland County because we are near the NYS Thruway the risk of lung cancer is over 200,000 times higher as compared to other areas. You can check out those numbers and find out what your air quality is like and who is polluting in your zipcode when you use www.scorecard.org.
The smallest size particles or PM2.5 were linked to an increased risk of lung cancer. Just think of what these small particles do inside a baby's lungs. Trucks, buses, cars, factories, fires, wood burning stoves, kerosene heaters and normal combustion and release of fine particles from cooking send particles deep into the lungs and raise the risk of respiratory illnesses and heart attacks.
It is estimated that more than 46 million Americans or 15% live in areas that have year round high levels of fine particle pollution. Los Angeles, San Bernadino Valley, Chicago and Houston usually top the list.
Lung cancer kills about 160,000 Americans every year with 90% attributed to cigarette smoking and 16,000 to 24,000 linked to other causes. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US.