Outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, nearly 40 percent of the global total, according to a new summary of data from a scientific study on leading causes of death worldwide.
Figured another way, the researchers said, China’s toll from pollution was the loss of 25 million healthy years of life from the population.The study itself is part of the latest analysis of the global burden of disease data by Christopher Murray and his colleagues, reported in the Lancet a few months ago, as I discussed at the time.
The authors decided to break out numbers for specific countries and present the findings at international conferences. The China statistics were offered at a forum in Beijing on Sunday.To be sure, every country that has gone through industrialization has gone through the pain of the pollution that is the byproduct of using a lot of fossil fuels to power a growing economy. Post-industrial societies have managed to reduce pollution partly through improved technology (which China has been slow to adopt, largely because it is expensive and thus drives up the prices of the goods sold), and partly by shipping those economic functions off to other places--like China. If China is unable to off-load its polluting industries to some other place (India, for example?) then it may be forced to adopt new fuels and new technology, or else find that its population will be growing even more slowly as the death rate climbs.