'Airpocalypse' From Pollution in China Blamed for 1.2M Premature Deaths

Image: 'Airpocalypse' From Pollution in China Blamed for 1.2M Premature Deaths A Chinese family wearing face masks to protect against air pollution walk along a street in Beijing on March 27, 2013.

Tuesday, 02 Apr 2013 02:56 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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Air pollution caused 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, a new study found, and the levels are still so hazardous, some are calling it an "airpocalypse."

The 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study also found that the thick smog that blankets China contributed to the loss of 25 million years of healthy life from the population, according to the New York Times.

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The study was published in December in The Lancet, a British medical journal, but the statistics for China specifically were posted Sunday. The statistics were gathered by an institute at the University of Washington and several partner universities and institutions, including the World Health Organization.

"Ambient particulate matter pollution" ranked as the fourth-highest leading cause of death for the Chinese in 2010, behind dietary risks, high blood pressure, and smoking, according to the study.

The Chinese media have been putting more and more pressure on the government to get the country's emissions under control. In February, the State Council, China’s cabinet, announced a timeline for introducing new fuel standards, but state-owned oil and power companies are known to block or ignore environmental policies to save on costs.

India also suffers from increasingly high pollution levels. The air quality contributed to 620,000 deaths in 2010, the study found.

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Last week, an official Chinese news report said the cost of environmental degradation in China was about $230 billion in 2010, or 3.5 percent of the gross domestic product.

Related stories:

Japanese Residents Stay Inside Amid China Pollution Fears

Chinese Media Urges Action on Air Pollution

Air Pollution in Beijing Reaches Hazardous Levels

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