Air pollution killing 4,000 in China a day, U.S. study finds

China pollution
August 2015BEIJING, ChinaAir pollution is killing about 4,000 people in China a day, accounting for 1 in 6 premature deaths in the world’s most populous country, a new study finds. Physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, calculated that about 1.6 million people in China die each year from heart, lung and stroke problems because of incredibly polluted air, especially small particles of haze. Earlier studies put the annual Chinese air pollution death toll at 1 to 2 million, but this is the first to use newly released Chinese air monitoring figures. The study released Thursday blamed emissions from the burning of coal, both for electricity and heating homes. The study, to be published in the journal PLOS One, uses real air measurements and then computer model calculations that estimate heart, lung and stroke deaths for different types of pollutants.
Study lead author Robert Rohde said that 38 percent of the Chinese population lives in an area with a long-term air quality average that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls “unhealthy.” “It’s a very big number,” Rohde said Thursday. “It’s a little hard to wrap your mind around the numbers. Some of the worst in China is to the southwest of Beijing.” To put Chinese air pollution in perspective, the most recent American Lung Association data shows that Madera, California, has the highest annual average for small particles in the United States. But 99.9 percent of the eastern half of China has a higher annual average for small particle haze than Madera, Rohde said.
“In other words, nearly everyone in China experiences air that is worse for particulates than the worst air in the U.S.,” Rohde said. In a 2010 document, the EPA estimates that between 63,000 and 88,000 people die in the U.S. from air pollution. Other estimates range from 35,000 to 200,000. Unlike the U.S., air pollution in China is worst in the winter because of burning of coal to heat homes and weather conditions that keeps dirty air closer to the ground, Rohde said. Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Outside scientists praised the research. Jason West at the University of North Carolina said he expects “it will be widely influential.” Allen Robinson at Carnegie Mellon University said in an email that parts of the United States, like Pittsburgh, used to have almost as bad air but have become much cleaner “through tough regulations combined with large collapse of heavy industry (it moved to Asia).”As China starts to clean up its air, limiting coal use, it will also reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief global warming gas, Rohde said. –DW
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3 Responses to Air pollution killing 4,000 in China a day, U.S. study finds

  1. Yellow Bird says:

    this report was released with convenient timing, no?


  2. Yellow Bird says:

    Wildfires in OR & WA currently the largest/worst in US. Today the Top 5 AQI honors all go to cities in Idaho & Oregon, including Portland, Beaverton & Idaho Falls with severe AQI readings of 195. Bad news for anyone with breathing issues, and if it gets much heavier it will be bad news for just about everyone. Where i live right now the sky is a thick pale grey overcast, but very dry- all smoke no moisture, & strong smell of burning wood & grass like when campfire smoke blows straight into your face. Visibility about 3 miles here but some folks reporting from closer to the Gorge that its down to about 1 mile farther east. Smoke has obscured the sun and turned the daylight an ugly yellowish tone. Winds are mild where i live, but are reportedly 20-25 mph out where the fires are being fought.
    According to the following .gov tool, the air is smokey across most of WA & OR, and 100% of Idaho is bad to very bad conditions


    • Yellow Bird says:

      today is back to blue… winds shifted, smoke all gone in my area… we city folk can go on about our summer as we were, no more concerns-
      but headline on local paper this morning quietly announces fires in northeast WA (& ID) have smashed previous records for severity and size.
      they are really, really Bad.


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