Air Pollution in China: New Slideshow

Last week I presented a slide show at Luce to an interesting new group, the Beijing Healthcare Forum. Led by two Fulbright scholars, this new group of interested expats and local Chinese gets together every two weeks to discuss a variety of health care issues. Last week I discussed one of my pet projects — air pollution in China. I have uploaded the slide show which you can watch online below without downloading. For the best view, it’s easiest to click on the “full screen” icon.

I’ve written a few posts regarding air pollution, but this slide show is much more comprehensive, with fun data and graphs regarding:

  • The basics of pollution & mechanisms of disease
  • Effects on health to adults and children
  • Interesting info on the disastrous Great London Smog of 1952
  • Monitoring protocols, worldwide and China
  • Pollution stats for China, Beijing and the world
  • Recommendations – globally and individually

I hope that this type of information can reach James Fallows! He’s the excellent reporter for Atlantic magazine who just finished a long stint in China, but he still reports on China from home. His recent posts said that he wasn’t aware of much data proving that air pollution causes disease. Well,  there is now a lot of evidence from epidemiology studies which show clear morbidity and mortality, both short term and long term, from pollution. There are some outstanding review articles, most recently from NEJM, which showed that for every 10ug/m3 improvement in PM2.5, there is a gain of 0.61 year life expectancy. And plenty of studies (mentioned in the slide show) show dose-related effects on chronic bronchitis, ischemic heart disease, and lung cancer (among others…) starting at a PM10 level of 15 ug/m3. Note that Beijing’s annual PM10, at ~140ug/m3, is nine times higher than this “safe” level. All this data is well supported and reviewed by the WHO and is the rationale to their strict 2005 Guidelines to keep annual PM10 under 20ug/m3.


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