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Dangerous Breathing E-mail
Magazine - Environment
Written by ND
We came across a shocking but very interesting document: It is a summary of a report released by Greenpeace China, that studies the health risks and economic loss linked to PM2.5 in four major Chinese cities (among them Xi'an), and assesses the potential public health and economic benefits given effective improvement of PM2.5 pollution control under different scenarios.

The report is called "Dangerous Breathing - PM2.5: Measuring the human health and economic impacts on China's largest cities" and it was published in December 2012. It is the first of its kind, based on currently available research findings and data in relation to PM2.5 in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Beijing, respectively elected as four major cities in Eastern, Southern, Western, and Northern China.

According to statistics from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), cities in China’s Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, and Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region suffer over 100 haze days every year, with PM2.5 (particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm) concentration two to four times above the World Health Organization guidelines. The effects of PM2.5-related air pollution extend beyond haze days, also leading to systemic damage to the health of the human body.

At the end of 2011 heated public discussion and media attention over PM2.5 led to its installation as a new national indicator for air quality monitoring, in an era of incredibly high pollution levels and an ever-increasing area of contamination.  ► Click here to read the report

Editor's comment

Speaking of contamination and pollution: Those who live or have lived in Xi'an for a long period of time, cannot deny the fact, that Xi'an has a massive pollution problem which is  out-of-control. Just like Beijing. No matter how we turn the coin and no matter how hard some expats (and most locals) try to play it down and even ignore it: Xi’an has some of the worst air quality in the world. Not to mention other environmental problems such as water pollution, and it does have a long-term effect on your health.

The mean fact is, that particulate matter (for example PM2.5) causes premature death. It doesn’t make you sick at first. It’s directly causal to dying sooner than you should. Those particles you breath on a daily basis and for years, penetrate the deepest parts of the lungs, causing cancer and respiratory diseases, years after exposure.

A World Bank report reportedly found that in China, poor air quality causes nearly a million premature deaths each year. Studies in spring 2012 confirmed a link between air pollution and premature death, even in places far less polluted than Beijing.

Overpopulation, the burning of coal (China burns more coal to produce electricity than the U.S., Europe and Japan combined) and corruption are just a few causes for this situation. Xi'an's problem has a lot to do with the surrounding area's geography as well. But, that fact is not meant to be an excuse for Xi'ans disastrous environment...

Beijing is by far not the only city with that sort of issues in China. It's a country wide disaster and can be found in any major city in China. Even so,  the CCP tries hard to assure to its people and the world (or better said: to delude them) that things are getting better and measures are being taken. The truth is: It's not getting better, it's worsening.
This is Xi'ans current Air Quality
Index (AQI) in real-time.

And they seem to be successfull with that "strategy". I heard chinese people often saying that smog doesn't exist ("It's western propaganda") and that it is some kind of  "natural haze". Ignorance will not solve the problem. On the contrary.

A nice example for the government's hypocrisy can be seen here:

BEIJING, Dec. 31. 2012 (Xinhua) -- Beijing’s air quality has improved for 14 straight years, with major pollutants down in the city, a municipal government spokesman said Monday.

The annual average concentration of major pollutants PM10 (particulate matter under 10 micrometers in diameter), sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide dropped by 4 percent year on year in 2012, said Fang Li, spokesman for the municipal environmental protection bureau.

“The biggest challenge for air quality control in Beijing is the increase of pollutants,” said Fang. “We can only improve air quality by making sure that pollution reduction outpaces increases in pollutants.”


Here is a recent photo of that "improvement":
Beijing Air Pollution 2013

Additional read

What is Particulate Matter (PM)?

Our valuable Editor ND has been with us since Monday, 15 June 2009.

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