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Eight-year-old girl diagnosed with lung cancer following prolonged exposure to smog

Photo courtesy: Peter/Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy: Peter/Wikimedia Commons

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    Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 6:07 PM -

    Weeks after the World Health Organization officially declared air pollution to be a carcinogen, an eight-year-old girl has been diagnosed with lung cancer resulting from prolonged exposure to smog.

    The child has become China's youngest lung cancer patient.

    According to local media, the girl lived near a busy road in eastern China and was continually exposed to toxic dust particles.

    Experts say that several factors make young children more sensitive to air pollution. 

    "Young children are included in the sensitive groups because on a per-body-weight basis they tend to inhale relatively more air than adults, and they spend more time being physically active outdoors," Christina Daly with Health Canada told The Weather Network back in March.

    "Their young defense systems make them more susceptible to air pollution."

    Researchers say the more people are exposed to damaging air particulates, particularly PM2.5, the higher their risk of developing lung and bladder cancers. Experts estimate that air pollution led to more than 220,000 lung cancer deaths globally in 2010 alone.

    Air pollution has been a persistent problem in China for years, largely due to rapid urbanization and a massive industrial sector.

    The city's air quality index regularly exceeds 500 micrograms. On January 12, 2013, the particulate level skyrocketed to 755 micrograms -- setting a new record.

    The World Health Organization recommends a maximum daily level of 20 micrograms.

    According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, levels higher than 300 micrograms per cubic meter are considered "hazardous."

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