Increased air pollution, containing carcinogenic particulate matter smaller than 2.5 μm (PM2.5), has gained particular attention in recent years as a causative factor in the increased incidence of respiratory diseases, including lung cancer. Extensive carcinogenicity studies conducted recently under Good Laboratory Practice conditions by National Toxicology Program in the USA, Ramazzini Foundation in Italy or Contract Research Organizations on numerous chemical compounds have demonstrated the importance of considering dose levels, times and duration of exposure in the safety evaluation of carcinogenic as well as classical toxic agents. Data on exposure levels to chemical carcinogens that produce tumor development have contributed to the evaluation of human carcinogens from extrapolation of animal data. A popular held misconception is that the risk from smoking is the result of inhaling assorted particulate matter and by products from burning tobacco rather than the very low ng levels of carcinogens present in smoke. Consider the fact that a piece of toasted bread contains ng levels of the carcinogen urethane (ethyl carbamate). Yet, no one has considered toast to be a human carcinogen. Future human carcinogenic risk assessment should emphasize consideration of inhalation exposure to higher levels of benzo (a) pyrene and other possible carcinogens and particulate matter present in polluted air derived from automobile exhaust, pitch and coal tar on paved roads and asbestos, in addition to other environmental contaminant exposure via the food and drinking water.
2008 The Japanese Society of Toxicology