In India, rapid urbanization and ndustrialization have contributed positively toward meeting the materialistic needs of the citizens, but have also resulted incontamination of the atmospheric environment. This paper
deals with the assessment of potential health risks posed by carcinogenic substances, namely cad-mium, chromium, and nickel, present in certain atmo-spheric environments in India. Average air concentra-tions of these carcinogenic metals have been assessed for different states and regions of India (C. R. Krishna-murti and P. Vishwanathan, Toxic Metals in the Indian Environment, Tata/McGraw–Hill, New Delhi, 1991).Based on these assessments, both individual and soci-etal risks have beenestimated in different states of the country, and comparisons were made. Reported concentration, release sources, potential health risks including cancer risk estimates, and ambient air in terim guidelines are discussed. The reported environmental releases and cancer risk from cadmium are minimal. There is a potential for increased respiratory cancer risk from exposure to chromium and nickel in some northern Indian states. These metals are irritants to nasal passages and the respiratory tract. Chromium is also corrosive to mucus membranes. Theyhave the potential to cause chronic respiratory problems.Since it appears that these metals may cause some adverse health effects in humans, exposure to these
ambient air pollutants should be minimized by managing the release of these contaminants to the en-vironment. There is a need for the development and strict enforcement of national and state regulatory standards.