China Air Pollution: Thick Smog Chokes Chinese Cities, Knocks 5.5 Years Off Life Expectancy [VIDEO]

By Philip Ross on July 9, 2013 6:01 PM EDT

china air pollution
A woman wearing a mask rides her bicycle along a street on a hazy morning in Beijing. Beijing's environmental authorities said earlier this year air quality in Beijing and nearby regions hit dangerous levels. (Photo: Reuters)

China's air pollution has gotten so bad that it's actually shortening life expectancy in the world's most populous country. The Guardian reports that China's high levels of air pollution, the result of the country's reliance on fossil fuels, will reduce the life expectancy of almost half the country's population by an average of 5.5 years.

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A landmark new study, published this month in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, says that China's air pollution is slowly killing 500 million Chinese people. From the study:

This paper's findings suggest that an arbitrary Chinese policy that greatly increases total suspended particulates (TSPs) air pollution is causing the 500 million residents of Northern China to lose more than 2.5 billion life years of life expectancy.

In April, iScience Times reported on China's "airpocolypse," so-named for the country's record levels of pollution earlier this year. The dense smog coverage was so thick in March that flights were grounded and roads were closed.

According to the World Health Organization, China's air pollution levels in the country's cities are 30 times higher than what the organization considers acceptable. Like a hazy soup of toxic smog, air pollution chokes Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai, the result of a country burning 3.8 billion tons of coal each year. That's nearly as much as the rest of the world combined, CNN reports. China's air pollution is so bad that dust generated in China has even traveled and settled in places as far as California.

From The Guardian:

Air pollution has been the subject of widespread public outrage in China since January, when Beijing's air quality index (AQI) - a similar metric to TSP - regularly exceeded 500, the scale's maximum reading, for weeks on end. On 12 January, Beijing's AQI hit a record 755, 30 times higher than levels deemed safe by the World Health Organization.

Read more from iScience Times:

Pollution And Hurricanes: Cleaner Air Means More Extreme Weather, New Study Finds [REPORT]

Airpocolypse In China Kills 1.2 Million: Record Air Pollution Cause Beijing State of Emergency [VIDEO]

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