China: Pollution

Pollution, rather than weather, is the far greater problem, particularly in Beijing, Shanghai and Xi’an.  China is home to 20 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities.  Only 1% of China’s 560 million urban residents breathe air that is deemed safe by European Union standards.


750,000 people in China die prematurely each year from pollution – mainly from air pollution in large cities—according to a World Bank 2007 report, “Cost of Pollution in China“. An estimated 350,000-400,000 people died prematurely from outdoor air pollution and an additional 300,000 died from indoor air pollution, such as the fumes from the coal-burning stoves.

Almost a third of San Francisco’s air pollution comes from China.

There are extensive monitoring apps for iPhone that provide daily warnings and advise based on US consulate monitoring station warnings (don’t trust all of the Chinese readings, they are usually 30-50% lower than international readings).

Most popular is “Air Matters” in the Chinese and US app stores.

Air Matters App

Use them, take their advice.

Prolonged pollution can be a significant health hazard, and at least, make your eyes water, your bones ache, and give you a general feeling of exhaustion.

  • The 2010 pollution census revealed that China’s “water is far more polluted and its industry is producing far more waste than previously realized.”
  • 43.2% of state-monitored rivers were classified as grade 4 or worse in 2010, meaning their water was unsuitable for human contact, according to data from China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection.
  • 90% of China’s urban groundwater is contaminated.
  • Nearly 700 million Chinese people drink contaminated water.
  • Over 1/3rd of fish species native to the Yellow River are now extinct because of damming or pollution, Chinese officials announced in 2007.

May 21st, 2008|

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