The Associated Press reports “New Yorkers and Californians breathe the dirtiest air in the nation and face higher cancer risks than the rest of the nation, according to the latest data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
According to AP:
New Yorkers’ risk of developing cancer from air toxins is estimated to be 68 residents per million. In California, the risk is 66 residents per million.
The national average is 41.5 per million, according to the report, which was released in February and based on emissions of 177 chemicals in 1999, the most recent data available.
These figures are attributed to a February 2006 report issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency. AP implies that these are annual cancer risks. They are not; they are lifetime estimates. In other words, for every million New Yorkers, it is estimated that an additional 68 will contract cancer at some point over their timetimes. By implying that these are annual cancer risk estimates, AP exaggerates their magnitude by a factor of about 75.