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Air Pollution In China

beijing air quality

Air Pollution In China

Details About The Air Pollution In China

There is no denying that the air pollution in China is bad, but few people realize just how bad it is. To put it in perspective, out of the 74 Chinese cities that were monitored by the central government, only three met the official minimum standards for air quality throughout the last year. This is just another indicator of the severe problem with air pollution in China.

The most problematic places

Not surprisingly, northern China was home to the most polluted cities. This is where most of the coal-powered industries are located. This includes steel manufacturing and electricity generation. According to official reports, in the broad northern region (which includes large cities such as Tianjin, Beijing, and the Hebei province) only 37 percent of the days throughout the year adhered to air quality standards. Being (home to more than 20 million people) only met regulations 48 percent of the days out of the year. The only cities that did meet their standards were Lhasa, Zhoushan, and Haikou.

Forced to address the issue

Despite the fact that China generally keeps most of their problems ‘contained’, the widespread issues with smog were something that needed to be addressed. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang suggested that China would wage war against pollution, taking the issues far more serious than before.

However, even some of the more positive environmental scholars suggest that it would take between five and ten years before the Chinese air would show a notable recovery from the massive amounts of air pollution in China.

Countless attributable deaths

The lethal air pollution in China is responsible for more than hundreds of thousands of deaths, this according to the former Chinese Health minister – Chen Zhu. A leading molecular biologist and professor of medicine, Chen Zhu believes that the Chinese government is censoring most of the information about the related deaths.


According to studies from the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning, WHO (World Health Organization) and World Bank, the air pollution in China is responsible for the premature deaths of 350,000 and 500,000 Chinese citizens.


According to Chen Zhu, air pollution in China is now the fourth biggest threat to the health of the Chinese people, only behind smoking, dietary risks, and heart disease. This should come as no surprise, because China accounts for half the world’s coal consumption and produces the largest number of major pollutants in the world.

Foreign workers affected as well

The pollution issue is not merely affecting Chinese nationals either. Because of the toxic air, foreign workers in Beijing are far less likely to stay. A survey from the American Chamber of Commerce in China revealed that almost 50 percent of all companies surveyed in the Beijing area were struggling to retain or recruit senior executives because of the poor air quality.


If you consider that this number was 19 percent only four years ago, it shows that air pollution in China is becoming an increasing issue. To keep filling openings in China, some companies are now offering higher salaries or larger bonuses.

Not exclusive to China

The World Health Organization announced that in 2012, air pollution around the world, both the outdoor and indoor variety, contributed to seven million deaths worldwide. The fast-developing nations in Asia (including India and China) were responsible for more than one-third of the deaths.


In these countries, almost the entire population struggles with PM 2.5 – these are fine particles in the air. These fine particles are able to enter into the bloodstream and penetrate deep into the lungs. Until those issues are resolved and drastic measures are taken to reduce these issues, we will likely see air pollution in China continue to develop as a serious issue.


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Updated: October 30, 2014 — 3:55 pm

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