LOS ANGELES -- Parts of Los Angeles rank number one among cities across the country where people face an increased cancer risk.
A new report conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency found that millions of people living in nearly 600 neighborhoods across the country are breathing concentrations of toxic air pollutants that put them at a much greater risk of contracting cancer.
The City of Cerritos was cited in the study as having the highest cancer risk in the Los Angeles area, due in part to its proximity to three freeways.
The levels of 80 cancer-causing substances released by automobiles, factories and other sources in the areas noted in the study exceed a 100 in 1 million cancer risk. That means that if 1 million people breathed air with similar concentrations over their lifetime, about 100 additional people would be expected to develop cancer because of their exposure to the pollution.
The average cancer risk across the country is 36 in 1 million, according to the National-Scale Air Toxics Assessment, which will be released by the EPA on Wednesday.
That's a decline from the 41.5 in 1 million cancer risk the EPA found when it released the last analysis in 2006. That data covered 1999 emissions.
Parts of Los Angeles, Calif., and Madison County, Ill., had the highest cancer risks in the nation - 1200 in 1 million and 1100 in 1 million, according to the EPA data. They were followed by two neighborhoods in Allegheny County, Pa., and one in Tuscaloosa County, Ala.
People living in parts of Coconino County, Ariz., and Lyon County, Nev., had the lowest cancer risk from air toxics. The counties with the least toxic air are Kalawao County, Hawaii, and Golden Valley County, Mont.
"Air toxic risks are local. They are a function of the sources nearest to you," said Dave Guinnup, who leads the groups that perform the risk assessments for toxic air pollutants at EPA. "If you are out in the Rocky Mountains, you are going to be closer to 2 in a million. If you are in an industrial area with a lot of traffic, you are going to be closer to 1100 in 1 million."
The analysis predicts the concentrations of 124 different hazardous air pollutants, which are known to cause cancer, respiratory problems and other health effects by coupling estimates of emissions from a variety of sources with models that attempt to simulate how the pollution will disperse in the air. Only 80 of the
chemicals evaluated are known to cause cancer, EPA officials said.
The information is used by federal, state and local agencies to identify areas in need of more monitoring and attention.
The data to be released Wednesday covers pollution released in 2002.
Los Angeles Co., Calif. 4,323 1,240 in 1 million
Madison Co., Ill. 1,030 1,140 in 1 million
Allegheny Co., Pa. 2,533 762 in 1 million
Allegheny Co., Pa. 1,729 706 in 1 million
Tuscaloosa Co., Ala. 3,088 633 in 1 million
Orange Co., Calif. 4,628 628 in 1 million
Scioto Co., Ohio 3,495 612 in 1 million
Lake Co., Ind. 1,580 609 in 1 million
Madison Co., Ill. 1,407 537 in 1 million
Jefferson Co., Ala. 5,387 492 in 1 million
SoCal City Ranks Worst in Nation for Cancer Risk
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