Air pollution is responsible for 1.6 million deaths in China each year, according to a new study from nonprofit Berkeley Earth. The study names heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer, and asthma as leading causes of pollution-related deaths.
Researchers found that nearly 40 percent of Chinese citizens are regularly exposed to air that would be considered unhealthy by American and European standards. The highest concentrations of unhealthy air are found around Beijing, Shijiazhuang and Tangshan in northeastern China.
7 Of 10 Most Air-Polluted Cities Are In China
Interestingly, the study found that much of the air pollution in Beijing originated in other industrial areas. The non-local pollution could make it "difficult" to improve air quality leading up to the 2022 Olympics.
"Air pollution is the greatest environmental disaster in the world today," Berkeley Earth Scientific Director and study coauthor Richard Muller said in a news release. "When I was last in Beijing, pollution was at the hazardous level; every hour of exposure reduced my life expectancy by 20 minutes. It's as if every man, women, and child smoked 1.5 cigarettes each hour,".
The study will be published in the upcoming version of the journal PLOS One.
This blog originally appeared on DSCOVRD.