An 8-year-old girl’s lung cancer is attributed to air pollution

A women wearing the mask rides a bicycle on the street during severe pollution on January 23, 2013 in Beijing, China. Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images

An 8-year-old girl from Jiangsu province has become the youngest person in China to be diagnosed with lung cancer, says an official news report. The doctors treating the girl — who is not mentioned by name in the report — say that the large amount of air pollution that has been plaguing the country is the main cause for the child’s disease.

Lung cancer is the most common form of cancer in China, with most patients contracting the disease from causes other than smoking. Cities in Jiangsu, an affluent province outside of Shanghai, have been covered in toxic haze in the past month, the report states. Air pollution is a worsening problem in China with levels in parts of Beijing reaching 40 times the exposure level considered safe by the World Health Organization. The smog has risen to levels to cause the closure of schools and businesses due to the hazards of exposure.

The pollution could possibly worsen in the coming months, as most of the central heating systems in Beijing are expected to be operating by November 15. However, according to a municipal government action plan, a total of 440,000 households in Beijing are scheduled to be upgraded to cleaner electric heating before that date in an effort to combat further pollution.

H/T Aileen Graef