Sustained Exposure to Air Pollutants Proven to REDUCE Life Expectency in China

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 20:48
Posted in category The Big Picture
Comments Off on Sustained Exposure to Air Pollutants Proven to REDUCE Life Expectency in China

As you may have noticed, there is a bit of a theme around air pollution in China lately.  For me, it is an issue that I view as CHINA wide, which is to say that you will not catch my taking selfies out of a window in Beijing and framing the issue on that level, and the recently released study Evidence on the impact of sustained exposure to air pollution on life expectancy from China’s Huai River policy is why

For me, it has ALWAYS been a systemic issue that is about urbanization (incl manufacturing), and more widely the energy that China’s economy requires to propel itself towards a US level of GDP.

The study begins:

The estimates suggest that the 500 million residents of Northern China during the 1990s experienced a loss of more than 2.5 billion life years owing to the Huai River policy. Furthermore, a research design based on this policy allows for a unique opportunity to estimate the effect of TSPs on human health, which can be applied to other countries, time periods, and settings.

The resulting estimates suggest that long-term exposure to an additional 100 μg/m3 of TSPs is associated with a reduction in life expectancy at birth of about 3.0 y (95%CI: 0.4, 5.6). This estimate is more than five times larger than the estimated impact of TSPs on life expectancy from fitting a conventional ordinary leastsquares equation on the same data.

And ends (emphasis mine):

The analysis suggests that the Huai River policy, which had the laudable goal of providing indoor heat, had disastrous consequences for health, presumably due to the failure to require the installation of sufficient pollution abatement equipment. Specifically, it led to TSP concentrations that were 184 μg/m3 higher (95% CI: 60, 308) or 55% higher in the North and reductions in life expectancies of 5.52 y (95% CI: 0.8, 10.2) in the North due to elevated rates of cardiorespiratory mortality.

Furthermore, data from 2003 to 2008 indicate that PM10 (particulate matter smaller than 10 μm) concentrations are 22.9
μg/m3 higher (95% CI: 13.5, 23.3) or 26%higher north of the Huai River, suggesting that residents of the North continue to have shortened lifespans. The TSP concentrations that prevailed during the study period greatly exceed the current concentrations in developed countries but are not atypical for many cities in developing countries today, such as India and China.

These results may help explain why China’s explosive economic growth has led to relatively anemic growth in life expectancy.

To read the full report, you can right click here, but a few of takeaways for those of you who are just looking for top line:

  • Using government data alone, the correlation between pollution and disease is clear.
  • PMI 2.5 may be all the rage, but PMI10 is also an important factor
  • Beijing’s efforts to remove coal boiler/ heaters from urban environments will have a positive impact, but true impact may be negated as cities themselves require more coal fired energy.
  • Filters are important.  At the source of energy production, and at the user level.

With the most important takeaway being that this system cannot continue along the same trajectory over the short to medium term.  Solutions will be sought out, and firms will be funded, to bring proven / scalable solutions to China.

There is no other way, regardless of what anyone in Beijing says, or what firms are seeing right now.  The economics don’t work otherwise, and there are firms already working the niche into a very strong position for when the market rips wide open.

Which it will.

A fact guaranteed by the fact that in the next 15 years, China is estimated to require another 400% more energy than current levels.  Which regardless of “intensity” targets ensures that the struggle to contain the smog continues.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.