The World Health Organization has just released a shocking global study that shows air pollution levels are rising at an “alarming rate” in cities across the world.
In the past five years, outdoor air pollution has grown 8% globally, meaning that over 80% of people living in cities breathe in air that exceeds WHO standards on average. While this finding may be totally terrifying for most of mankind, it’s actually not all that bad for China.
Overall, the fast-growing cities of the developing world have been hit the hardest. But China is slowly developing its way out of the developing world. While it may have been hard to see, what with the various airpocalypses, China has been making some commendable strides in cleaning up its environment before it’s too late.
So, in this WHO study of some 3,000 cities worldwide, a mere 8 Chinese cities ranked in the top 50 most polluted, judged by their average PM2.5 count:
9) Xingtai, Hebi – 128
10) Baoding, Hebei – 126
14) Shijiazhuang, Hebei – 121
19) Handan, Hebei – 112
24) Hengshui, Hebei – 107
29) Tangshan, Hebei – 102
37) Langfang, Hebei – 96
48) Cangzhou, you guessed it, Hebei – 48
Jesus Christ, Hebei.
Other notable cities include: Tianjin (51), Beijing (56), Nanjing (81), Shanghai (242). Honestly, once you start getting to the hundreds and two hundreds, there are just giant blocks of Chinese cities, but hey, China has a whole lot of cities.
And generally speaking, the ones in the East are cleaning up their act, at the expensive of those in the West. More and more factories are fleeing restrictive pollution policies in eastern China for the Wild West, where they can open up a coal-driven power plant and burn baby burn.
Therefore, in a recent Greenpeace study, the cities with the higest PM2.5 counts in China were all in Xinjiang, with levels double, triple and even quadruble the already high national average of 60.7 micrograms per cubic meter. The WHO associates PM2.5 levels of 35 and above with significantly higher mortality risks, and suggests living in places with levels under 10.
Anyway, stealing away China’s mantle as the world’s most extreme polluter is India, with an insane 22 cities in the top 50. At the top of the PM2.5 list is Zabol in Iran with an average level of 217. Cities in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and a couple of African countries also make it into the top 50.
Of course, this isn’t to say that China is doing particularly well. According to research done by American Cancer Journal of Clinicians, 4 million people were diagnosed with cancer in China last year, while almost 3 million died from it. The data is the worst in China’s industrial “rust belt” provinces, where lung cancer rates have quadrupled.
Also, stay the hell away from Hebei.