11/28/2017, 09.41
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In Chinese cities, rising ozone pollution among greatest health hazards

Study conducted by a team of Chinese researchers in 272 cities between 2013 and 2015 highlights "solid evidence" linking ozone pollution during period with increased mortality for cardiovascular, cardiac diseases and strokes.

Shanghai (AsiaNews / Agencies) – Rising levels of ozone pollution in Chinese cities is one of the major health hazards, as it causes growth in deaths from stroke and heart disease.

A study conducted by a team of Chinese researchers and published in the Environmental Health Perspectives magazine reports that data from 272 Chinese cities in the period between 2013 and 2015 show "solid evidence" linking ozone exposure for a short period of time with increased mortality from cardiovascular, cardiac diseases and stroke.

Tropospheric ozone, also known as photochemical smog, is caused by the interaction of sunlight with nitrogen oxides (NOx) and by the large quantity of uncontrolled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) produced by combustion of fossil fuels or from the production of chemical substances.

China is conducting a "war on pollution" to reverse the environmental damage caused by nearly four decades of unbridled economic growth. But much of the attention was devoted to reducing the concentrations of small particles in the air, known as PM2.5, especially in winter.

Kan Haidong, director of the department of public health at Shanghai's Fudan University, said while PM2.5 is currently a bigger contributor to China's overall disease burden, ozone is already equally significant in regions like the Pearl River delta. "Ozone has been increasing in the past several years in China," said Kan, who was involved in the study. "In contrast, PM2.5 has decreased by about 30 percent in the past five years."

China's average ozone exposure increased by 17% in 2014-2017, mplying an additional 12,000 premature deaths per year, Greenpeace estimated, using data from China's environment ministry and the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) database (http://www.healthdata.org/gbd).

Liu Bingjiang, head of the air quality department at China's environment ministry, said in September that 59 out of 338 monitored cities exceeded the national ozone standard of 160 micrograms per cubic metre last year. But he added that while China is paying close attention to the problem, recent increases were "still a normal fluctuation."

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