While China’s anti-pollution efforts have visibly curbed smog in the country’s largest urban areas, for millions of people, it was too little, too late. Smog has already damaged the health of millions of Chinese people, and the damage will get only worse as the population ages.
Air pollution is behind 1.6 million early deaths every year in China, according to a report released by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) this week.
In 2017, China was able to slash the levels of particle pollution (PM) by 6.5% in more than 300 cities. The country’s northern regions also reported meeting the air quality goals for the 2013-2017 period, as coal consumption and traffic have been partially addressed.
China’s Anti-Pollution Efforts Can’t Restore Older People’s Health
HEI found that despite the efforts, air pollution will kill even more people as the population is getting older. What’s more, China’s air quality is still below Beijing’s standards.
People are living longer and older people are more susceptible to the diseases most closely linked to air pollution,
the head of HEI, Dan Greenbaum, said in a recent interview.
HEI researchers have built models of air pollution in China up to the year 2030. Those models show that deaths would still go up despite the government’s efforts to meet air quality standards.
In late 2017, China had 240 million people aged 60 or older, which accounts for 17% of the population, a National Bureau of Statistics report shows. The number of Chinese seniors jumped by 55 million from 2011 to 2017. China expects this demographic to hit 400 million over the next two decades.
While Beijing is reportedly working on another anti-smog plan for 2018-2020, the levels of ground-level ozone, a pollutant generated by traffic that damages the lungs, are climbing, HEI warned.
Image Source: Pxhere