Want to live fast and die young? Settle down in China, the farther north the better.
According to a new study, China’s persistent smog problems are, unsurprisingly, shaving years off the lives of its citizens. Researchers at the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago say that if China was able to live up to its own modest air quality standards, the average Chinese person would live 1 year longer. Meanwhile, if it managed to meet WHO standards, people could enjoy 3.5 more years of life.
That figure is even more extreme for those living in some of China’s most polluted cities, located in the nothern part of the country. For instance, Beijingers would live 6.4 more years and Harbin residents 6.9 more years if international air quality standards were met.
In a separate study that was published on Monday in the US-based journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers also said that people living in northern China (north of the Huai River), live 3.1 years less than their compatriots in the south due to health problems resulting from breathing in too much PM2.5.
Each winter, heavy smog covers northern China as coal furnaces are switched on for heating, blanketing major metropolises in a hazardous layer of haze. In 2016, only 84 out of 338 Chinese cities surveyed met the country’s air quality standards.
Recently, the government has made ambitious promises about making the skies blue again and reducing the number of harmful particles in the air, even taking steps to close some coal power plants and stop the building of new ones. However, there is evidence that mild, humid winter weather could end up making the annual airpocalypses even worse this year and in years to come.
To somehow make all of this even worse, a previous study found that Beijing’s heavily polluted air also causes weight gain.
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