Improving Air Quality Prolongs Life

Zhou Xin

PureInsight | January 20, 2003

[] According to a November 22, 2002 report on the Chinese BBC website, medical researchers at Hong Kong University and the University of London made an important discovery. They found that if the sulfur emission from vehicles is reduced, the number of deaths due to heart and respiratory related diseases is also reduced. This is evidence that air pollution is hazardous to human health.

The researchers conducted studies on deaths related to heart and respiratory diseases at a time when the Hong Kong government, then a colony under UK rule, had adopted new regulations to limit the amount of sulfur in gasoline. This resulted in a significant reduction in the amount of carbon dioxide and sulfide in the air. In the first year, about six hundred lives in Hong Kong were saved by the sulfur emission regulation. These six hundred people were mostly the elderly or patients with respiratory and heart diseases. If not for the new regulations, these people most likely would have died from their respiratory and heart related diseases. Of course, scientists have known for a long time that air pollution fosters terrible diseases in humans.

On November 2001, researchers from the University of California compared 9,000 infants from over thirty districts around Los Angeles, which is a severely polluted city. They compared the infants' health levels with the level of pollution from their districts. They found that districts with heavy traffic also had the highest levels of ozone and carbon monoxide. The infants born in the more polluted districts were three times more likely to be born with congenital heart disease than those from districts with lesser pollution. Researchers also found reason to speculate on the possibility of pollution increasing the rate of premature delivery and over-weight infants at delivery.

Industrial development brings modern machines that provide superficial convenience. But their side effects, such as air pollution, have brought disaster to people. According to a report by a political and economic consultant firm based in Hong Kong, Mainland China's environmental pollution is the second worst in the world, with India's being the worst. What can we expect about their citizens' health? Pollution from motor vehicles is the major cause of air pollution. In cities like Beijing and Guangzhou, sixty percent of the air pollution comes from car emissions. Some cities have pollution levels that are often multiples of the official safety standard. Sales of automobiles are skyrocketing in China. How much longer can mankind get by with ignoring the consequences of its actions? How much longer can we poison the environment in which all earthly livings beings reside before the damage is irreversible and insurmountable?

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