Over the next five years, China’s Health Ministry plans to create a national network to monitor the long-term impact of chronic air pollution on human health. This is big news from a country known for record-breaking levels of air pollution.
China’s future network will gather data on particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers, known as PM2.5, all around the country. The data gathering will begin in the most polluted cities. Once information is obtained and collated, scientists will begin a long-term analysis of the PM2.5 data, weather information, and mortality rates.
Kidney damage, high infant mortality rates, and lung cancer have all been linked to long-term exposure to air pollution. Air pollution kills over 2.5 million people around the world annually, and earlier this month it was officially classified as a carcinogen.
A recent international study demonstrated that the country’s air pollution is shortening the lives of the people in northern China by an average of 5.5 years.
The World Health Organization recommends a daily level of no more than 20. A level above 300 is considered extremely toxic. Last week, the PM2.5 index reached a reading of 1,000 in some parts of Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, affecting 11 million people.
The main cause of China’s pollution is the exploding level of coal production, which officials have shrugged off as the inevitable consequence of modernization.