China’s Bad Air Estimated To Have Caused 1.37 Million Premature Deaths

84 percent of China’s population lives in areas with unacceptably high air pollution, study reports.

AsianScientist (Nov. 21, 2016) – In a study of PM2.5 measurements from over 500 sites in China, researchers have found that polluted air caused 1.37 million premature deaths in 2013. These results have been published in Science of the Total Environment.

Air quality has a significant influence on human health, however, controversy still exists over the different exposure assessments and choice of air quality indicator. Depending on whether data from scattered city sites or combined satellite remote sensing was used, the impact of PM2.5 measurements on premature mortality can fluctuate from 0.35 to 1.6 million people per year. PM2.5 are extremely fine particles that have a diameter less than 2.5 micrometers. They are thought to penetrate deep into the lungs and cause long term health effects in humans.

A team of researchers led by Professor Zhu Tong from Peking university used PM2.5 data from over 500 ground observation stations in China, re-analyzing them using a newly developed integrated exposure-response (IER) model to estimate the risk of premature death due to exposure to PM2.5.

They found that 84 percent of China’s population live in areas where the yearly average PM2.5 exceeded 35 micrograms per cubic meter, the upper limit set in ambient air quality standards by the World Health Organization.

Furthermore, their model predicted that this exposure to high PM2.5 levels resulted in 1.37 million premature deaths, of which 50 percent, 28 percent and 12 percent were due to cerebrovascular disease, ischemic heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease respectively. The study also points out that if the concentration of PM2.5 meets the WHO standards, the risk of premature death can decrease by 39 percent, 23 percent and 66 percent respectively, revealing the non-linear relationship between the decrease of PM2.5 and the improvement of different health conditions.

The authors concluded that it is necessary to raise ambient air quality standards for the sake of China’s health.

The article can be found at: Liu et al. (2016) Estimating Adult Mortality Aattributable to PM2.5 Exposure in China with Assimilated PM2.5 Concentrations Based on a Ground Monitoring Network .


Source: Peking University; Photo: Pixabay.
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