Archive for the Pollution Category

Study: PM2.5 kills like smoking [China Daily]

Posted in China, Environmental protection, Pollution on March 19, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Updated: 2015-02-05
By Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

Premature deaths related to PM2.5 pollution in 31 major Chinese cities reached 257,000 in 2013, making it a major killer equivalent to smoking, according to a yearlong study released on Wednesday.

The study, conducted by Greenpeace, the environmental protection group, and Peking University’s School of Public Health, took each of the 31 major Chinese cities’ average PM2.5 concentration and applied a World Health Organization model to estimate health effects.

It focused mainly on four conditions, including lung cancer and stroke, which have been tied to exposure to the fine particulate matter.

The WHO model is authoritative, said Pan Xiaochuan, professor of public health at Peking University and one of the study’s authors.

The study said there were around 90 premature deaths for every 100,000 people from PM2.5 pollutants, which are airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that can penetrate the lungs.

That means, for example, that in Beijing, pollution-related deaths would have exceeded 18,000 in 2013.

The rate was higher in heavily polluted cities like Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, and Jinan, Shandong province, the study said, adding that the number of deaths caused by PM2.5 pollution may equal those from smoking.

Some public health experts were skeptical of the claim, saying that because PM2.5 pollution affects human health over time, it may take a decade or two to quantify its effects accurately.

While they shared concerns about PM2.5 pollution’s adverse effects on human health, some took issue with the details of the study.

“The country has started to investigate the health effects, but it will take one or two decades to get results based on long-term tracking of some patients,” said Zhi Xiuyi, head of the Lung Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment Center of the Capital Medical University.

He said air pollution could exacerbate some diseases, such as those related to the lungs, and lead to delays in recovery, but it’s hard to say that PM2.5 pollution was the major factor in a death.

Moreover, some of the 31 used in the study did not release data on PM2.5 in 2013, he said, leading him question the results.

“I think that the results could be inflating the number of deaths related to PM2.5 pollution due to multiple factors,” Pan said, although he said it’s legitimate to seek understanding about the effects on human health…

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Almost half of Americans live with unhealthy levels of air pollution [Guardian]

Posted in Pollution, USA on April 30, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Suzanne Goldberg

29 April 2014

Nearly half of all Americans live in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to an American Lung Association (ALA) report released Wednesday…

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(c) Guardian News & Media Ltd

Expats reconsider living in Beijing over growing pollution [People’s Daily]

Posted in Beijing, China, Employment, Environmental protection, Expats in China, Malaysia, Pollution, Shanghai, Tourism on April 25, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Yan Shuang (Global Times)
April 18, 2013

The Makeevs are leaving Beijing this summer. It was a tough decision for the family to make. They’ve lived here for a decade and have grown attached to the capital’s ways, its oddities and its quirks.

But the air pollution, amid a number of concerns, finally became too much for the Russian couple after giving birth to a baby girl last September.

In their home near the East Fourth Ring Road across from Chaoyang Park, the couple stays at home as much as possible on heavily polluted days. Their air purifier runs around the clock, windows stay closed and masks are a must when they do go out.

“Beijing’s air got worse in the last year, and this winter was especially bad,” said Makeev, who runs an export business in Beijing.

The heavy smog that blanketed eastern parts of China for much of the winter triggered international attention to China’s air pollution issue, especially in the capital where some 200,000 expatriates reside.

The US embassy’s air quality index classified pollution levels as “beyond the index” several times in January. However, the official index put out by environmental authorities, which usually stands in contrast to the US embassy data, also showed in parts of Beijing that the pollution levels were too high to be read at monitoring stations.

– Staying away –

“We feel drowsy, we get headaches, we cough. We even noticed differences in the baby’s behavior, as she gets cranky and doesn’t sleep well,” Makeev said. He explained that in Russia, it’s common to spend at least two to three hours daily outside to let babies get fresh air.

Besides air pollution, Makeev also worries about food and water quality. The comfortable and cheap cocoon that lured many expats to Beijing is cracking. Rents are up, high prices are being charged for low-quality products and traffic is an ever-worsening chore, he said. The increasingly evident wealth gap is also making him uncomfortable.

In pursuit of better climate and business opportunities, the couple has decided to leave for Malaysia soon.

Makeev’s worries are shared among many in the expat community in Beijing, and the couple are not the only ones planning on leaving.

There were at least two high-profile cases of foreigners asking to be repatriated in January, when PM2.5 readings in Beijing climbed to over 800, said Max Price, a partner at Antal International China office, a global executive recruitment corporation. A PM2.5 reading over 500 is already considered serious pollution.

Price told the Global Times that a high-ranking lawyer and a senior technical professional working for two German automobile companies respectively insisted on being repatriated to their original countries and left.

“When I speak to my international colleagues, their first questions are never about how business is going or how I am doing personally. They always ask about the pollution,” he said. “It’s really something I never experienced before.”

When speaking to people as a recruiter, quality of life used to be the third question following the actual duties of the job and the salary, but now it has jumped to second on the list, Price said, adding that this mainly happens with people with families.

A lot of foreigners who are keen on staying in China are turning their attention toward second-tier or third-tier cities, as these have increased employment options and better air quality, said Price.

The recent H7N9 bird flu outbreak has also come to complicate matters.

“A lack of communication and a limited number of reports have made people fear the worse and compare it with the SARS outbreak 10 years ago,” he said, noting that these aspects are making Beijing and Shanghai less attractive than other Chinese cities to expats.

Although there is no official data on how many foreigners are leaving Beijing or tourists staying away for fear of the pollution, the Beijing municipal tourism data showed a slump of foreign visitors in February and March this year compared to 2012.

According to the statistics, Beijing saw 165,000 foreign visitors in February, 37 percent less than last year…


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Poor air plagues 90% of China’s cities [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Environmental protection, Liaoning Province, Pollution on April 8, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

March 30, 2013

NEARLY 90 percent of China’s major cities including Shanghai have poor or extremely poor air quality, according to a report by the environmental school of Renmin University of China.

Experts from the School of Environmental and Natural Resources of the university evaluated air quality data of 281 cities across China from 2005 to 2010 and reached the conclusion that the bulk of the most developed cities have poor air quality. More than 46 percent of residents in those cities are unsatisfied with air quality.

The evaluation is based on an analysis of density of particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide in the air. More than 89 percent of the cities have poor to extremely poor air quality while 10.67 percent had better air quality according to the system. Most of the cities in the 10.67 percent with better air are less developed. Among the 89.33 percent cities with poor air quality, most are industrial or have central heating provided by the government.

The report said China’s air pollution control lagged behind its economic development and the situation is getting worse.

“Air quality can be improved through regulations and administration. The fast-developing cities where the air quality is fast declining should think more about it,” said Ma Zhong, dean of Renmin University’s environmental school.

Most cities in Liaoning, Shandong and Shanxi provinces ranked in the lower [i.e. less polluted] 30 percent of cities. Baiyin and Lanzhou in Gansu Province and Urumqi in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region were the most polluted.

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War-related carbon emissions deserves attention [People’s Daily]

Posted in Iraq, Kosovo, Libya, Pentagon, Pollution, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on January 19, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The Pentagon is a humungous polluter, the worst polluting sub-state entity in the world. I like this article better if one searches and replaces “carbon emissions” with “pollution”. – Zuo Shou

By Liu Jiangyong (People’s Daily Overseas Edition)
08:16, December 26, 2011

Edited and translated by People’s Daily Online

The international community has not paid enough attention to war-related carbon emissions, a major contributor to global warming. If such emissions continue to go unnoticed, there will be a “war over carbon emissions” sooner or later.

War-related carbon emissions can be divided into three categories. The first category are carbon emissions produced during the research and development, production, storage, transportation, and utilization of weapons, equipment, ammunition, and supplies used in the war that a country or group of countries waged against a sovereign state, as well as during long large-scale civil wars.

The second category includes the destruction of urban and rural buildings, infrastructure, industrial and mining establishments, oil and gas facilities, forests, and grassland caused by wars, as well as carbon emissions produced during rescue operations and post-war reconstruction.

The third includes carbon emissions produced throughout the production and exports of weapons, equipment, and ammunition to one of the warring parties in a country or region. The international community should revise the international law based on scientific research to curb war-related carbon emissions because the existing energy conservation and emissions reduction measures are not enough to resolve global warming.

Although estimates on this type of emissions need to be done by scientists, common sense says the fact that cities are devastated by a number of missiles and warplanes and then reconstructed after the war will inevitably lead to the most serious carbon emissions.

Calculated according to output power, a U.S. M1 main battle tank’s carbon emissions are equivalent to those of 10 ordinary Mercedes-Benz cars. Therefore, war-related carbon emissions’ impact on climate change are much greater than those caused by industry, thus belligerent countries’ overall carbon emissions more should be counted in.

After the Cold War, the United States has launched and participated in five high-tech local wars since 1990, namely, the Gulf War, the Kosovo War, the Iraq War and the Libya War. What these wars have brought are ruins on blocks, dark smoke in oil wells and scorched earth.

Long-term local wars lead to the normalization of war-related carbon emissions and increase of global accumulated carbon emissions. It is worth mentioning that the period of local wars overlaps with that of climatic anomaly and warming. The Libyan War lasting for more than six months ended in late October this year, while the global temperature during this period was higher than that in previous years. This is probably not accidental.

However, some developed countries still turn a blind eye on war-related carbon emissions, which greatly affect the global climate. They do whatever they want to, and do not assume any moral or legal responsibilities. On the other hand, they ask the developing countries to assume the same obligations in reducing industrial and domestic carbon emissions. The world seems to have become more and more absurd.

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Air, noise pollution among Chinese urbanites’ most common concerns: survey [Xinhua]

Posted in China, Environmental protection, Pollution on January 1, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

BEIJING, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) — Roughly 63 percent of Chinese urban residents said they were satisfied with the local environment, with air quality and noise being their top concerns, according to new survey results.

The results, released Monday by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, were based on the National Bureau of Statistics randomly phoning citizens of most Chinese cities with a series of questions last year.

The satisfaction rate of respondents toward air quality was 55.2 percent, 7.7 percentage points lower than the satisfaction rate of 62.9 for the general environment.

The rate for noise control was 62 percent, also slightly lower than the average.

A recent government proposal for a tighter system of monitoring pollution nationwide, including using the “PM 2.5” measure of microscopic airborne particles, has won support from a majority of the Chinese public.

The plan to measure finer matter — considered more hazardous to people’s health as it can penetrate deeper into the lungs — is scheduled to be fully implemented nationwide in 2016, and the central government may designate certain regions to adopt it ahead of the national deadline.

China currently uses PM 10, which gauges particular matter under 10 micrometers, to measure air quality.

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How a smoggy Chinese city turned green – Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province [Guardian]

Posted in China, Environmental protection, Liaoning Province, Mao Zedong, Pollution, Shenyang on December 14, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

* Shenyang – once a key in Mao Zedong’s push to industrialize China – has begun to emerge from its smoggy past, cleaning up its factories and expanding its green spaces *

Christina Larson for Yale Environment 360, part of the Guardian Environment Network

17 October 2011

Almost every day of his childhood, He Xin remembers the skies in his hometown of Shenyang being gray. “If I wore a white shirt to school, by the end of the day it would be brown,” recalls He, who was born in 1974, “and there would be a ring of black soot under the collar.”

He grew up in Shenyang (population 8 million), the capital of northeastern China’s Liaoning province, a city famous for its heavy industry and manufacturing — and soot and pollution. Growing up, the view he remembers most vividly was looking out over Shenyang’s fabled Tiexi industrial district, home to several large iron and steel plants and the site of China’s first model workers village: “When I was a teenager, if I climbed a tall building to look out over Tiexi, all I would see was a forest of large smokestacks, chimneys, and dark, billowing smoke.”

But today all that is gone. No longer standing are Tiexi’s iconic smokestacks and its blocks of red brick workers’ dormitories, with their rows of coal-fired chimneys atop. Now He is the vice president of the environmental consultancy BioHaven and splits his time between Shenyang, Beijing, and St. Louis. To him, Shenyang looks almost unrecognizable today.

“It’s not perfect, but the air is cleaner… almost like it’s not in China,” he said, adding: “The only thing the same is the statue of Chairman Mao.” He was referring to the saluting bronze figure [in] downtown People’s Park, one of the largest statues of Mao Zedong in China.

If the city long known as the “elder brother” of industry for its central role in Mao’s drive to industrialize China in the 1950s and ’60s has recently made strides to clean up its act, He isn’t the only one to take notice. Last November, the Urban China Initiative (UCI), a think tank co-founded by McKinsey & Co., Columbia University, and Beijing’s Tsinghua University, released its first “Urban Sustainability Index” for China. The index assessed sustainability in 112 cities by looking at 18 environmental indicators — from air pollution to waste recycling to mass transit — for the years 2004-2008. Among Chinese cities, Shenyang emerged as a leader in environmental improvement…

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

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