Coal Pollution Burned 2.5B Years Off China Lifespans
Free coal blamed for huge north-south discrepancy
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2013 2:32 AM CDT
Updated Jul 9, 2013 6:03 AM CDT
Miners shovel coal at mine in Xiahuayuan county in north China's Hebei province   (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

(Newser) – By giving free coal to everybody in the north of the country for decades, the Chinese government has inadvertently provided researchers with dramatic proof of the damage heavy air pollution does to health. A new study examining decades of data has found that life expectancy in southern China is 5.5 years longer than in northern China, and the difference is almost entirely the result of heart and lung diseases caused by particulate pollution from burning coal, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The researchers estimate that the air pollution cut a staggering 2.5 billion years off the lives of the 500 million residents of northern China. "It's a huge loss. Air pollution in China is really damaging people's health much more seriously than the findings in previous literature" would suggest, says one of the study's authors. "After this study, there should be no argument over whether we should take the air pollution issue seriously." The free coal policy ended in 1980, but northern China is still home to most of the country's coal-burning power plants and researchers believe life expectancies there will remain lower for decades to come, National Geographic reports.

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Showing 3 of 31 comments
Jul 18, 2013 4:41 PM CDT
If anyone saw the polution China (Mexico, India and others) pumps, dumps & buries in the ground, air and water DAILY - they would laugh at our spending billions in an effort to squeeze another 2-3% more efficiency from equipment or take another few pounds of carbon from our emissions. I have - its an eye opener, and the crazy thing is our efforts are almost futile as the air and water (except our fresh water) circulate world-wide so our effort has very little affect on the cleanup. If they would clean up their act by 10% it would probably have a far greater impact than our cleaning up 99% of our discharges.
Jul 10, 2013 6:38 PM CDT
That's what they get for harming nature so
Jul 9, 2013 7:19 PM CDT
T O X I C T O B A C C O S M O K E KILLS 1,800 INNOCENT people around the world every day! So much for the "coal."