Northern Chinese Life Expectancy Cut by 5 Years Due to Air Pollution
July 9, 2013 10:00 AM
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The widespread use of coal in the north is causing the lower life expectancy
Chinese citizens living in the northern part of the country have a lower life expectancy than those in the south, according to a new study.
The study, led by Michael Greenstone from the environmental economics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (who was accompanied by an Israeli and two Chinese scholars), said that
heavy pollution in northern China
causes citizens in that area to have lower lifespans than those in the south.
In fact, the study says that the 500 million people who live north of the Huai River will lose 2.5 billion years of life expectancy because of air pollution. More specifically, each northerner has a 5.5-year drop in life expectancy compared to southerners.
This cut in life expectancy, according to the study, is mainly due to outdoor air pollution in the north. The concentration of particulates north of the Huai was 184 micrograms per cubic meter higher than in the south. This is about 55 percent greater in the north than south.
This much air pollution is leading to cardiorespiratory diseases and other health problems related to breathing this in. The pollution is caused by the use of free coal for boilers for winter heating north of the river. Also, coal-fired factories are extremely common in the north compared to the south.
The study analyzed health and pollution data collected by Chinese officials from 1981 to 2001.
“It highlights that in developing countries there’s a trade-off in increasing incomes today and protecting public health and environmental quality,” said Greenstone. “And it highlights the fact that the public health costs are larger than we had thought.”
The researchers hope that this study pushes China to make greater environmental protection laws and take health risks associated with air pollution more seriously.
This study was published in
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The New York Times
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
7/9/2013 1:28:28 PM
I love how the President of the US is bypassing congress to dictate ridiculous carbon regulation (like the authoritarian he is) that will cripple an already weak economy. All the while countries like China just pollute with reckless abandon.
I will get on board carbon emissions legislation (read non-executive branch dictate) as soon as China and others stop filling our atmosphere with much worse poisonous smog which incidentally gets blown towards the United States and Canada due to prevailing winds.
7/9/2013 2:12:22 PM
The emissions standard crippled our automakers more than anyone else. Most of the crippling effects isn't caused by government restrictions. It was caused by their laziness while their foreign competitors chip away at their market share making superior products.
The high emissions standard have stimulated more jobs, technology and markets.
China recognized the same problems with pollution and they are actually very active at developing and using alternative energy.
"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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