Pollution leads to drop in life span in northern China

From the New York Times:

Southern Chinese on average have lived at least five years longer than their northern counterparts in recent decades because of the destructive health effects of pollution from the widespread use of coal in the north, according to a study released Monday by a prominent American science journal.

The study, which appears in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by an American, an Israeli and two Chinese scholars and was based on analyses of health and pollution data collected by official Chinese sources from 1981 to 2001.

The results provide a new assessment of the enormous cost of China’s environmental degradation, which in the north is partly a result of the emissions of deadly pollutants from coal-driven energy generation. The researchers project that the 500 million Chinese who live north of the Huai River will lose 2.5 billion years of life expectancy because of outdoor air pollution.

“It highlights that in developing countries there’s a trade-off in increasing incomes today and protecting public health and environmental quality,” said the American member of the research team, Michael Greenstone, a professor of environmental economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “And it highlights the fact that the public health costs are larger than we had thought.”

Read the complete story here.

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