An independent research group has released a study on air quality in China. The findings aren’t pretty.
Berkeley Earth, an independent research group funded largely by educational grants, took air quality data from 1,500 sites across East Asia in coming to the conclusion that air pollution results in around 4,400 deaths per day in China or 1.6 million deaths per year.
The researchers found that 92 percent of China’s population experienced at least 120 hours of unhealthy air during the study period from April 5, 2014 and August 5, 2014. For 38 percent of the population, the average pollution level across the entire four-month period was deemed as unhealthy. According to Reuters:
The most dangerous of the pollutants studied were fine airborne particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which can find their way deep into human lungs, be absorbed into the bloodstream and cause a host of health problems, including asthma, strokes, lung cancer and heart attacks.
The researchers also examined where the pollutants were detected and concluded that the sources of PM2.5s matching those for sulfur dioxide suggests most of the pollution comes from burning coal, especially in a northeast corridor extending from Shanghai to north of Beijing.
China gets about 64 percent of its primary energy from coal, according to National Energy Administration data. It’s closing the dirtiest plants while still planning new, cleaner ones. The country is expected to shut 60 gigawatts of plants from 2016 to 2020 though three times as many plants are scheduled to be built using newer technology, according to Sophie Lu, a Bloomberg New Energy finance analyst in Beijing.
Back in March this year, a landmark film about China’s catastrophic air pollution titled Under the Dome by journalist Chai Jin went viral on Chinese social media. But just several days later, the documentary was deleted from major Chinese video websites under the orders of the central propaganda department.
By Lucy Liu