BEIJING: A new study from Berkley Earth reveals shocking statistics about air pollution. Each day more than 4000 people die from various effects of air pollution making it the cause of 17 percent of annual premature deaths in China.
According to Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, every hour of exposure to pollution in Beijing reduces life expectancy by a shocking 20 minutes, equating it to smoking one and a half cigarettes per hour. Muller co-authored a paper from PLOS studying overall air pollution in China.
According to the study more than one third of Chinese breathe air that would be classified as unhealthy in the U.S, the most deadly pollution consist of airborne particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter, these find their way deep into human lungs and cause health problems like strokes, heart attacks, cancer and asthma.
Air quality varies according to location but the study indicates that that 92 percent of the country’s population experience at least 120 hours of pollution levels considered “unhealthy” by the EPA and more than one third of Chinese citizens breathe unhealthy air year round.
Although air pollution account for an increasing number of premature deaths, overall life expectancy in china has increased by 6 years from 69 years in 1990 to 76 years in 2012, two years below the U.S. average.
The overall increase in life expectancy is believed to be a result of the improved standard living in the China following the industrialization of the country and massive growth in GDP.
The study coincides with a public announcement by Chinese officials reporting progress on air pollution ahead of the Winter Olympics that are to be held in Beijing in 2022. Old vehicles are retired and two coal fired power plants has been shut down.
Much of the pollution in Beijing come from far away industrial areas so the actions taken is not expected to have any noticeable impact.