Friday, November 17, 2006

Pollution and Health: New Chinese evidence

Regular readers will be aware that we include a large number of stories on China. The rapid growth of China and India are classic "globalisation and environment" case studies. A close examination of India would make a good PhD topic for anyone interested.

This article in PlanetArk should therefore not come as a surprise.

BEIJING - China's air pollution has caused a jump in chronic lung diseases usually associated with the elderly among people in their 30s, state media said on Thursday.

Sufferers of emphysema and chronic bronchitis were growing in number and getting younger, the Beijing News said, citing a health research report that said China had about 43 million chronic lung patients, of whom about 1 million die each year.

"Because of the worsening environmental pollution in cities, more people are getting the disease and the patients are younger," He Quanying, a hospital director who organised the research, was quoted as saying.

The report, which also blamed smoking for the rise in lung diseases, was based on studies of patients in 30 hospitals in China's six big cities, including the capital Beijing, financial hub Shanghai, industrial Shenyang and northwestern Xian, famous for its terracotta warriors.

Experts have blamed the pollution on China's helter-skelter pace of economic growth, which has resulted in increasing numbers of vehicles, power plants, factories and urban construction.

The government has launched several campaigns to improve air quality ahead of the 2008 Summer Olympics, but there have been no tangible results.

A closer examination of the impact of Chinese growth, and hence pollution, on health (in a similar style to some of the UK and US studies would be another excellent research topic).

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