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CEE's Dr. Ted Russell contributes expertise to International Agency for Research on Cancer

CEE's Dr. Armistead (Ted) Russell played a significant role in the International Agency for Research on Cancer  (IARC) announcement this week, linking air pollution with cancer.

An agency of the World Health Organization, the IARC issued its findings on October 17. Russell, a renowned expert in air quality modeling, monitoring, and engineering, was asked to share his knowledge with the IARC when  it convened to finalize that report in Lyon, France, October 8-15.

"After thoroughly reviewing the latest available scientific literature, the world’s leading experts convened by the IARC Monographs Programme concluded that there is sufficient evidence
that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer," the IARC wrote . 

In the same report, the IARC also found a positive association between air pollution and bladder cancer and  it confirmed that "particulate matter, a major component of outdoor air pollution, is also classified as carcinogenic to humans."

The IARC is comprised of specialists on exposure to air pollution, epidemiology, toxicology and cellular mechanisms leading to cancer.  The group is a trusted source of scientific evidence on cancer-causing substances and exposures, including many components of air pollution: diesel engine exhaust, solvents, metals, and dusts.

Thursday's announcement was the first time the IARC had found sufficient evidence to link outdoor  air pollution with cancer.

While Russell was invited to share his perspective with the group as a specialist, he did not participate as a working group member, due to funding from potentially affected companies.

"IARC takes great steps to make sure there is no potential or appearance of conflict," he noted. "As an engineer, particularly at a place like Georgia Tech, much of my funding comes from industry dealing with issues and technologies important to such companies. Thus, I participated in writing and the discussions, but not the evaluation itself."

The IARC determination highlights the growing evidence of the importance of air pollution worldwide, Russell added.  A recent global evaluation found that air pollution leads to more premature deaths than smoking and lack of clean water.