Air Pollution in China is Killing 1.6 Million People a Year

Air Pollution in China is Killing 1.6 Million People a Year

According to the study conducted by the University of California-Berkeley published by the journal PLOS One that takes an issue we’ve all heard of – the pollution that clogs the air over much of China – and examines its eventual consequences for human health. The results were striking: According to the study, air pollution is

According to the study conducted by the University of California-Berkeley published by the journal PLOS One that takes an issue we’ve all heard of – the pollution that clogs the air over much of China – and examines its eventual consequences for human health. The results were striking: According to the study, air pollution is responsible for killing 1.6 million Chinese a year, about one sixth of all the premature deaths in the country.

Using data from China’s national air quality reporting system and two third-party sources, the scientists mapped the concentrations of six major pollutants across eastern China, where 97 per cent of the country lives. Earlier studies have also put the annual death toll between 1 and 2 million, according to the Associated Press, but this is the first to use real data from the Chinese monitoring system.

The worst of the pollutants was particulate matter – tiny bits and pieces like soot, dust and smoke that hang in the air and infiltrate the lungs. Much of it comes from the burning of fossil fuels, but not always in the expected places. For example, despite the often intense focus on Beijing’s air quality problem (the U.S. Department of State runs a Twitter account that posts hourly reports on air quality in the city) much of the city’s pollution actually comes from areas to the southwest.

The researchers then plugged the Chinese and third-party data into a modelling framework from the World Health Organization that links pollution levels to deaths from fatal health problems like lung disease and stroke. That gave them the 1.6 million number, the equivalent of 4,000 deaths a day.

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