Estimating the Carcinogenic Risks of Major Pollutants Released into the Environment
(1) Portola High School, (2) UCLA Extension
Each year, large amounts of carcinogenic pollutants are released into the environment, which negatively affects human health. This study ranks the major carcinogenic pollutants that are released into the air, water, and land by both the total released amounts and the potential carcinogenic risks. We hypothesized that the carcinogenic pollutants released in the greatest quantities have the highest carcinogenic risks to human beings. Based on the available data and our preliminary analysis, the carcinogenic pollutants that are released the most include the air pollutants styrene and acetaldehyde, the water pollutants acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, as well as the land pollutants asbestos (friable) and nickel compounds. The pollutants with the highest carcinogenic risks, estimated by the total released carcinogenic doses, include formaldehyde and styrene released into the air, cadmium and formaldehyde released into water, and cadmium and cobalt compounds released into the land. The results suggest that the pollutants with the highest carcinogenic risks may not necessarily be the ones released in the greatest quantities into the environment due to different carcinogenic potency of the pollutants. This study could help to promote public awareness of the potential carcinogenic risks of environmental pollutants and help policy makers to focus on the high-risk items.
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