China’s pollution threatens health of its citizens

Jonathan McDonald

Staff Writer

Pollution problems have been a large point of concern in China, with cancer beating out cardiovascular disease as the country’s main killer. The impact of pollution in many areas is detrimental to the health of Chinese citizens. China’s environment ministry is working on a five-year plan to reduce the pollution levels and make a better living environment for its citizens. However, five years seems like a reach for how major changes could be made in China when looking at the high levels of pollution.

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) used the Air Quality Index (AQI) to determine pollution levels in China. The tested air shows just how deadly the air in certain parts of China truly is. According to the Institute, “Beijing’s AQI rose above 500 by 2 a.m. on Jan. 13 and remained above that level until 6 a.m. the next day.”

With air quality above 500, which is the worst air quality possible, even breathing it in can be hazardous. This information on the air in China means that breathing in the air for too long can have long term damaging effects on the body. These effects are often cancerous. Not only is this pollution in the air, it is also in the water. Pollution in both the air and water means it easily circulates throughout different parts of China.

In 2009, journalist Deng Fei did an investigation on pollution in China. During his studies he mapped the Chinese villages most impacted by cancer. The International Business Times gave a quality example on just how negative pollution has been to China: “Mainland China’s cancer rates have been surging since the 1990’s, becoming the nation’s biggest cause of death. In 2010, an investigative journalist and environmental activist, Deng Fei, posted a widely circulated map of China’s cancer villages. Deng Fei was able to map out over 100 cancer villages, covering 27 provinces. Research by other academics and news organizations suggests that a more realistic estimate would be upwards of 400.”

Many Chinese citizens are for legitimate reasons fed up and upset about the conditions of the air they inhale, and water they consume every day. But, China has more lenient environmental regulations than many other developed countries.

This leads to industries continuing environmentally unfriendly production practices to build factories there. With these industries not being regulated, the harm they have done to China’s environment will take a lot of work to change. And this is a change I feel will take more than five years to complete. Not only must they clean the environment, they must keep their past mistakes from repeating themselves. This will mean a change to industry practices. And with these industries adding to China’s economy, getting them to change their practices will be easier said than done.