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DECEMBER 9, 1998   9:50 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Clean Air Trust
Frank O'Donnell of Clean Air Trust, 202-785-9625
 
Study Links Smog, Lung Cancer Among Men; New Evidence for Cleaner Gasoline, Vehicle Standards
 
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - December 9 - Men who live in smoggy areas face increased risk of lung cancer, according to a study to be published next week in a federal health journal.

Researchers from Loma Linda University said women did not appear to share the increased cancer risk from smog, or ozone. However, both men and women face increased risk of lung cancer from high levels of particle soot and sulfur dioxide in the air, the researchers found.

Frank O'Donnell, executive director of the nonprofit Clean Air Trust, said the study "shows a new danger from dirty air," which has already been linked to asthma and other breathing problems.

"This study is dramatic new evidence that we need much cleaner gasoline as well as cleaner cars, sport utility vehicles and other light trucks," O'Donnell added, noting that much of the smog is produced by motor vehicles.

In the new study, Loma Linda researchers followed more than 6,000 non-smoking Seventh-Day Adventists in California for 15 years. They found that men who didn't smoke but lived in smoggy areas were more than three times as likely to have lung cancer than men in areas with cleaner air.

The scientists had several theories why women seemed less at risk of cancer from smog, including that men spend far more time outdoors in the summer when ozone is worst or that estrogen somehow neutralizes the dangerous ozone.

O'Donnell noted that just last month, the state of California set stricter standards for future cars, SUVs and other light trucks. California already has cleaner, low-sulfur gasoline, which enables vehicle pollution control equipment to work properly.

"Public health and environmental groups believe the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should follow suit with strict national vehicle and gasoline standards because smog is a national problem," O'Donnell added.

Results of the study will be published next week in Environmental Health Perspectives published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

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