By Irving Feng
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
BEIJING, China – A report released to China’s central government in Beijing theorizes that over one million Chinese die prematurely each year due to poor air quality in the rapidly industrializing nation.
The report was first presented in the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study and published in a British medical journal. The report mainly focuses on statistics from India and China which has some of the most densely populated and polluted cities in the entire world.
The 2010 report estimates that air pollution ranked as the fourth leading killer in China behind dietary problems, high blood pressure, and tobacco smoking. Air pollution ranked as the seventh leading risk factor contributing to premature deaths worldwide, killing roughly 3.2 million people in 2010.
Ambient particulate matter pollution, tiny pieces of solid matter floating around in the atmosphere, is what causes the deaths after it is inhaled by people who live in the densely populated Chinese cities. Barbara Finamore, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council to China, warns that if you travel to Beijing you immediately feel the effects after getting off the plane in the form of stinging eyes and sore throats.
The air pollution in Beijing, and all over China, routinely gets so poor that citizens will walk through the streets wearing protective masks. Young children are also not allowed to play outside in the streets. There are certain days when the ambient particulate matter levels are so high in the cities that it is impossible to see the buildings across the street.
Robert O’Keefe, researcher at the health effects Institute in Boston, states that China’s rapid growth is causing the dramatic decrease in air quality. Cars and trucks are hitting the urban streets in major cities at an alarming rate, and the power plants all over the country are burning large amounts of low-grade coal.
The Chinese government has been pressed by the international community to control the environmental impact of their explosive growth and energy consumption. Though officials are under severe pressure, a study released last Thursday suggests that the information on pollution in Chinese cities has gotten less accessible in recent years.
An official report released last week by a Chinese news source states that the reversal of some of the environmental degradation in China would cost roughly $230 billion. The report only focuses on the 2010 figures. The estimate came from research that was conducted in 2004 by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
For further information, please see:
International Business Times – Airpocalypse In China: Air Pollution Linked to 1.2M Deaths, Study Says – 2 April 2013
NPR – China’s Air Pollution Linked To Millions Of Early Deaths – 2 April 2013
Yahoo news – Air pollution linked to 1.2M deaths in China in 2010 – 2 April 2013
The New York Times – Air Pollution Linked to 1.2 Million Premature Deaths in China – 1 April 2013