Living in pollution hotspots ups chance of kiddie cancer, study says

Many childhood cancers likely have environmental causes, according to a new study from the U.K.’s Birmingham University. Women who live within a half-mile radius of emission hotspots such as industrial areas and major roads, it says, are two to four times more likely than others to bear children who develop cancer before age 16. George Knox, the study’s author, compared maps of chemical emissions in the U.K. against the medical records of kids who died of cancer between 1966 and 1980. “Most childhood cancers are probably initiated by close perinatal encounters with one or more of these high emission sources,” he said. “The low atmospheric levels of these substances suggest the mother may breathe them in, with carcinogens passing across the placenta.” The study recommended locating major pollution sources away from population centers, reducing pollution where possible, and conducting more research.