This gruesome statistics amounts to over 4,400 people being killed every day due to noxious effects of air pollution. The research focused on mapping major Chinese pollution sources, and yielded some interesting results – the already well known smog that covers Beijing’s skyline actually comes from other industrial zones.
The study was done by a research organization called Berkeley Earth based in the University of California and was published in the PLOS ONE journal. After amassing data from 1,500 different locations throughout China, it concluded that over a third of the country’s 1.3 billion citizens breathe air which surpasses the US pollution limit, some of which can cause a plethora of health problems – from asthma and lung cancer to an increased chance of a cardiovascular disease.
Cities are by far the worst case, as over 90 per cent of 360 analyzed cities (over a half of the total number of registered cities in the country) are above international air pollution standards. The statistic regarding pollution related deaths is not surprising in this regard: the study concludes that their number could fall anywhere between 700,000 and 2.2 million yearly. The wide range is as accurate as predictions can get, as the Chinese government does not offer foreign access to national healthcare statistics nor is it reliable when asserting its pollution.
The deadly nature of Chinese pollution comes from the fact that some of the most intensely affected areas have certain particles invisible to the human eye which can easily be inhaled and enter the lungs and blood stream. In high concentration, these can cause a lot of medical complications – with their biggest source being any industry which relies on coal burning. Judging that China is the world’s largest coal importer, this automatically leads to the gravest possible assumptions when it comes to air pollution.
This might be the cause of growing environmentalist concern amongst China’s middle and upper class citizens, as street protests against the opening of new factories have become a common occurrence in the last couple of years. But authorities remain firm on their position regarding civil unrest – a planned protest against the rumored opening of a new chemical factory in a heavily polluted Shanghai industrial zone ended with riot police herding the protesters into busses and driving them away before it had a chance to start in June.
strong>Image Source: New York Times