Cleaner Power Sources Could Save 26 Million Years Of Life

Eliminating emissions by switching to cleaner power sources could add years to people’s lives in China and India, according to a study by scientists in the US.

AsianScientist (Oct. 26, 2018) – Eliminating harmful emissions from power plants could save lives in China and India. These findings have been published in Environment International.

The 2.7 billion people who live in China and India—more than a third of the world’s population—regularly breathe in some of the dirtiest air on the planet. Air pollution is one of the largest contributors to death in both countries—it is ranked as the fourth most common cause of death in China and the fifth most common in India. Harmful emissions from coal-fire power plants are a major contributing factor to air pollution.

In this study, researchers from Harvard University wanted to know how human health could benefit if coal-fired power plants in China and India were replaced with clean, renewable energy. Previous research has explored mortality from exposure to fine particulate matter (known as PM2.5) in India and China, but few studies have quantified the impact of specific sources and regions of pollution and identified efficient mitigation strategies.

Using atmospheric chemistry modeling, the researchers calculated province-specific annual changes in mortality and life expectancy due to power generation. Using the province-specific approach, the researchers were able to narrow down the areas of highest priority, recommending upgrades to the existing power generating technologies in Shandong, Henan, and Sichuan provinces in China, and Uttar Pradesh state in India.

They also reported that using clean power-generating technologies could save an estimated 15 million years of life in China and 11 million years of life in India annually.

“This study shows how modeling advances and expanding monitoring networks are strengthening the scientific basis for setting environmental priorities to protect the health of ordinary Chinese and Indian citizens,” said Professor Chris Nielsen, executive director of the Harvard-China Project and a co-author of the paper. “It also drives home just how much middle-income countries could benefit by transitioning to non-fossil electricity sources as they grow.”

The article can be found at: Gao et al. (2018) The Impact of Power Generation Emissions on Ambient PM2.5 Pollution and Human Health in China and India.


Source: Harvard University; Photo: Shutterstock.
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