Air pollution in China and India may be worse than we realize
There are plenty of reasons to hate young people these days — they’re ruining the housing market because they’re too poor to move away from home, they’re making us rethink what it means to be an “environmentalist,” they’re having safe sex all over the place, they’re willing to go carless and could therefore force the country to step up its game on public transportation and bike lanes, and they love fruits and veggies, which means adults no longer have the satisfaction of saying “Eat you fruits and veggies!”
If that’s not enough fodder for fist shaking, here’s one more: A recent study shows that the youths of China and India are too damn healthy (for now) to feel all the deadly side effects of the horrific pollution that they breath every day. That means the public health situation over there might be worse than we thought. Here’s more from the Associated Press:
[…] As their populations age, more people will become susceptible to conditions such as heart disease, cancer or stroke that are caused or exacerbated by air pollution. Already, Asian nations led by India and China account for 72 percent of the total 3.7 million annual deaths from outdoor air pollution – more than AIDS and malaria combined.
India and China would need to reduce average levels of tiny, inhalable particulate matter called PM 2.5 by 20 to 30 percent merely to offset their demographic changes and keep mortality rates steady, the study shows. That still won’t get them to the WHO’s recommendation of 10 micrograms per cubic meter, but it could help avoid several hundred thousand premature deaths every year.
Actually reducing pollution-related mortality in China, India and other countries with extreme pollution would require major action. Cutting mortality in half, for example, would take an average 68 percent reduction in PM 2.5 from 2010 levels, according to the study. If pollution levels were to remain stable, Indian mortality would go up 21 percent and China’s 23 percent.
Well, shit. On the plus side, Howard Frumkin, an environmental health specialist and dean of the University of Washington’s School of Public Health, was not involved in the study but told the AP that there’s an “enormous” opportunity to prevent premature death in India and China by simply cleaning up the air.
Plus, he pointed out that ditching fossil fuels is, you know, ONLY THE BEST IDEA EVER: “Then we reduce greenhouse gas emissions, slow climate change, and thereby protect health in myriad ways.”
INDIA, CHINA NEED CLEANER AIR JUST TO KEEP DEATH RATE STEADY,
The Associated Press