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Cancer Risk Declines by 65% in Southern California

Update Date: Oct 03, 2014 06:08 PM EDT

Cancer risk due to air-pollution in southern California has reduced by about 65 percent over 2005 levels.

According to data released by South Coast Air Quality Management district, the reduction comes on the heels of strict fuel usage regulations and ban on movement of heavy vehicles in certain parts. CBS Los Angeles reported that the average cancer risk declined from 1,194 per million in 2005 to 418 per million in 2012-13.

"Air pollution controls on everything from cars to trucks to industrial plants have dramatically reduced toxic emissions in our region. However, remaining risks are still unacceptably high in some areas. We need to maintain our commitment to reducing toxic emissions so that everyone can breathe healthful air," Barry Wallerstein, the district's executive officer told CBS.

The highest risks exist in port areas of Los Angeles and Long Beach where data showed 1,050 cases per million people. California Healthline reported a few other areas including Central Los Angeles, high density areas in Riverside and San Bernardino counties and southern LA communities. Cancer risk was lowest in the northern of Orange Country where it fell from over 1,000 cases per million to 400 cases. Coachella Valley and Southwest Riverside County, were other areas which showed lowered risks.

LA Times reported that the study conducted between 2012 and 2013 involved measurement of 37 carcinogenic pollutants including benzene, lead, arsenic and diesel soot. Diesel exhaust remains the biggest contributor to the problem. The decline is being attributed to the clean air plan of 2006 under the use of pervious generated diesel vehicles in the vicinity of ports was banned. Exhausts from ships were also regulated by mandating greater use of shore power.

Acknowledging the findings as encouraging, they said that the region's risk is still among the highest in the country. Health experts recommend a cancer risk limit of 10 persons per million. 

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