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World

AFP
March 14, 2018

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China ‘winning’ war on smog, helping life expectancy

BEIJING: China appears to be “winning” its war on air pollution, making so much progress that life expectancy could rise by more than two years, according to a US university study.

The Chinese government has been waging a battle to clear its skies of smog that has cut life expectancy in some regions and prompted its citizens to buy masks and air purifiers to protect themselves during peak pollution days.

The University of Chicago says in its study released Monday that while the world’s biggest polluter faces a long road to reach national and international air quality standards, the results “suggest the country is winning its war on pollution”.

Based on daily data from more than 200 monitors across China from 2013 to 2017, the analysis found that cities have cut levels of PM 2.5 — the tiny airborne particles considered most harmful to health — by an average of 32 percent in just four years. If sustained, such reductions would increase the life expectancy of the average Chinese citizen by 2.4 years relative to 2013. PM 2.5 can play a role in heart disease, stroke, and lung ailments such as emphysema and cancer.

Another study published by the university last year had found that air pollution in northern China had cut life expectancy by three years compared with the south of the country. “We don’t have a historical example of a country achieving such rapid reductions in air pollution. It’s remarkable,” Michael Greenstone the economist and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago who conducted the studies, told AFP Tuesday.

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