Aug 30, 2015

China's air is so bad breathing it is like smoking 40 cigarettes a day

China's air pollution is in a bad spot - Business Insider

In a recent report by the nonprofit Berkeley Earth, researchers found that the average person in China was exposed to 52 micrograms of PM2.5 per unit of cubed air (the standard way of measuring the pollutant). For comparison, a study of the long-term effects of air pollution found that an annual exposure to just five micrograms of PM2.5 per unit of cubed air (10 times less than the amount discovered in the air in some areas of China) increased the risk of developing heart problems by 13%. 

China's rapid industrialization has left the country without a great way of monitoring coal-powered plants or the growing amount of car exhaust in the air.

About a year and a half ago, the country declared a "war on pollution." The government set up about 1,000 monitoring stations to check for pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, and — most importantly — the PM2.5. But these efforts are just beginning to figure out how bad the situation is.

Here's a chart from The Economist showing where the air is most deadly. 

China air quality Economist graphThe Economist

Fortunately, some areas aren't all that bad, especially areas farther way from Beijing and Shanghai. But even so, The Economist notes, about half of China's 1.3 billion population lives in areas with PM2.5 levels above the EPA's highest tolerance level.

Looks like China's "war on pollution" still has a ways to go.