09/04/2015, 00.00
CHINA
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Pollution causes 1.6 million deaths per year in China

UC Berkeley researchers have used Google Maps (obscured in China) to create a live map of air pollution in the country. Between April and August 2014, 38% of Chinese lived in an environment harmful to health.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Pollution costs Beijing 1.6 million lives per year, 17% of all deaths; 92% of Chinese people breathed at least 120 hours of unhealthy air between April and August 2014; 38% of the people live, on average, in an atmosphere harmful to health, according to US environmental parameters. This was discovered by scientists at the University of Berkeley, who conducted research on Chinese territory using Google Maps platform that Beijing has blocked nationwide.

Robert Rohde and Richard Muller, the directors of the study, drew a pollution map of China, taking samples, every hour, in 1500 locations scattered across the nation, from April to August of last year. In an article published in the journal Plos One, the two scientists say that " The greatest pollution occurs in the east [of the country], but significant levels are widespread across northern and central China and are not limited to major cities or geological basins" .

The scientists have calculated that air pollution causes"1.6 million deaths in China every year," about 17% of total deaths. "The map - writes Rohde and Muller - The] map provides near real-time information on particulate matter air pollution less than 2.5 microns in diameter. Under typical conditions, PM2.5 is the most damaging form of air pollution likely to be present, contributing to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, respiratory infections, and other diseases".

The Chinese population consider pollution the number one problem of the country. For most companies, however, pollution taxes cost less than installing cleaner technologies required by law. In the first six months of 2015, the government closed or transferred 185 companies.

On June 9, the Environment Minister Chen Jining said that the ecosystem of China has "reached the limit" because of the ecological damage of the very high pollution, and that the government will take "effective measures" in the next five years.

In 2014 the former Minister of Health Chen Zhu penned an article for the important medical journal The Lancet in which he admitted that environmental pollution causes each year, across the nation, between 350 thousand and 500 thousand premature deaths. However, a study published in the same journal earlier stared at the victims of the polluted air to only 1.2 million in 2010. Data released by the last study show a further increase.

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