In China, particulate matter is the fourth leading cause of death. It is just behind high blood pressure, smoking, and dietary risks. Experts posit that without major changes, by 2050, air pollution will be the top killer worldwide.
The airpocalypse, as it is sometimes called, is having major effects on children and the elderly. Children are affected because their bodies are still developing and they lack the respiratory defenses that adult bodies have developed. Children are also more active and spend more time outside than adults. They take deep breaths and take the particulate matter deep into their lungs.
A study by the NRDC discovered that prenatal exposure to coal burning emissions reduced motor development at age two and caused lower developmental scores.
The elderly are vulnerable to particulate matter because ageing bodies can’t compensate for the harmful impact. Heart disease, stroke, lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, and asthma are all directly related to geriatric exposure to air pollution.
Fortunately, after some controversial years where Chinese officials were accused of deleting sections regarding premature deaths from a report entitled Cost of Pollution in China, current Chinese leaders may be willing to make changes.
Only time will tell how serious Chinese officials are about addressing the issue. Pollution is at crisis-level and air pollution, water pollution, food safety, and soil contamination cannot be ignored, and the longer they go without being addressed, the more perilous they become.