Air pollution killing 4,000 in China a day, US study finds

Seth Borenstein, Yahoo News, Friday 14th August

WASHINGTON (AP) — Air pollution is killing about 4,000 people in China a day, accounting for 1 in 6 premature deaths in the world’s most populous country, a new study finds.

 Physicists at the University of California, Berkeley, calculated that about 1.6 million people in China die each year from heart, lung and stroke problems because of incredibly polluted air, especially small particles of haze. Earlier studies put the annual Chinese air pollution death toll at 1 to 2 million, but this is the first to use newly released Chinese air monitoring figures.

The study released Thursday blamed emissions from the burning of coal, both for electricity and heating homes. The study, to be published in the journal PLOS One, uses real air measurements and then computer model calculations that estimate heart, lung and stroke deaths for different types of pollutants.

Study lead author Robert Rohde said that 38 percent of the Chinese population lives in an area with a long-term air quality average that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency calls “unhealthy.”

“It’s a very big number,” Rohde said Thursday. “It’s a little hard to wrap your mind around the numbers. Some of the worst in China is to the southwest of Beijing.”

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