City to study dis­ease-smog link

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By LI YANG in Shang­hai liyang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Shang­hai will be­come the first city in China to study the re­la­tion­ship be­tween air pol­lu­tion and res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease.

The Shang­hai mu­nic­i­pal pub­lic health au­thor­ity, in re­sponse to last week’s smog that shrouded North and East China, in­clud­ing Shang­hai, will con­duct a survey on air-pol­lu­tion-re­lated dis­eases and the need for pre­cau­tion­ary res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease treat­ment for in­fants, preg­nant women and se­nior cit­i­zens.

The den­sity of PM2.5, par­tic­u­late mat­ter smaller than 2.5 mi­crom­e­ters in di­am­e­ter, in the air over the af­fected ar­eas was10 times the safe lim­its set by the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

He­bei prov­ince in North China is be­lieved to be the main source of China’s smog. Sim­i­lar in size to the state of Wash­ing­ton, He­bei con­sumes nearly 300 mil­lion tons of coal a year, 5 per­cent of the world’s con­sump­tion. The prov­ince has about 150 iron and steel fac­to­ries and pro­duces nearly 25 per­cent of the world’s to­tal crude steel out­put.

Mo d e r n tox i c o l o g y re­search shows that ex­po­sure to PM2.5 can lead to sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased mor­tal­ity rates due from car­dio­vas­cu­lar, cere­brovas­cu­lar and res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases, as well as in­creased can­cer risk.

The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment at­tributes smog to emis­sions from au­to­mo­biles, cook­ing, bar­be­cue and coal-burn­ing in­dus­tries.

The Shang­hai gov­ern­ment’s emer­gency mea­sures on smoggy days in­clude lim­it­ing the num­ber of au­to­mo­biles on roads, and sus­pend­ing classes at kinder­garten, pri­mary and mid­dle schools.

The sur­veys on res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease will be con­sid­ered when pro­vid­ing pub­lic health ser­vice in the com­mu­nity. Statis­tics shows the num­ber of pa­tients with res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease in Shang­hai rose sharply after 2008 as smog be­came more preva­lent.

The Shang­hai pub­lic health au­thor­ity said that 98.8 per­cent of chil­dren un­der 6 years old and 95.1 per­cent of preg­nant women are cov­ered in the health­care mon­i­tor­ing net­work now. The res­pi­ra­tory dis­eases re­lated to air pol­lu­tion will be the main ob­jects for mon­i­tor­ing and sur­vey­ing in the fu­ture.

Re­searchers from the West last year found that smog re­duced the life span of Chi­nese res­i­dents in North China by 5.5 years on av­er­age. The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment re­futed the find­ings im­me­di­ately, and took ac­tion to clean the air.

The plan fo­cuses on weed­ing out in­dus­tries that are over­ca­pac­ity in places such as He­bei, but not on how to deal with the smog’s threat to pub­lic health, which can be done sooner than an in­dus­trial re­struc­tur­ing.

GAO ERQIANG / CHINA DAILY

The Shang­hai gov­ern­ment is­sues an orange alert on Dec 6 dur­ing one of the most se­ri­ous smog days in the city.

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