Environmental Policies to Reduce Cancer Risk

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Cancer is the second most prevalent cause of death in the United States, behind heart diseases. The lifetime risk of contracting cancer is roughly 1 in 3 for women and 1 in 2 for men. It is therefore not surprising that U.S. legislators and policy-makers continue to seek avenues for addressing cancer risks attributable to environmental pollution. This month, EM focuses on the issue of cancer risks associated with air pollution, and includes both information and opinions from several different perspectives.

The U.S. Clean Air Act (CAA) prescribes different regulatory programs for stationary and mobile sources of carcinogenic air pollutants. Many stationary sources (both existing and new) are subject to requirements to apply the Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT), and Section 112(f) requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to promulgate additional standards for any of these sources if the residual lifetime cancer risk (i.e., after application of MACT) exceeds one in one million. CAA requirements for mobile sources (Section 202(l)) are more qualitative, specifying that “reasonable requirements” be promulgated for motor vehicles and/or motor vehicle fuels.

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