China is the biggest polluting country in the world, accounting for 30 percent of carbon emissions for the entire planet, according to 2018 data from Statista. The country has become industrialised in recent decades, and doubled its efforts to catch up with the western world.

However, its ambition has not come without consequences as new research has revealed that as many as 30.8 million people in China suffered premature deaths as a result of air pollution between the years 2000 and 2016.

Researchers from several institutes in China and the US studied satellite images from NASA to track air particle pollution, known as PM2.5, across the country.

Particle pollution can trigger asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes and cause lung cancer.

The team then cross-referenced the satellite data with information from pollution monitoring stations and maps which showed where roads with heavy traffic and big factories were.

According to their calculations, between 1.5 and 2.2 million people died prematurely in China each year from 2000 to 2016, which equates to approximately 30.8 million in the higher estimates over the 17 year period.

The study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said: “Annual mortality burdens attributable to long-term PM2.5 exposure were estimated at the provincial scale, and the national total adult premature deaths were estimated at 30.8 million over the 17-y period in China.”

However, China announced today that it has big plans in the pipeline to reduce emissions.

Xie Zhenhua, the country’s top climate change adviser, is quoted by Reuters as saying that China will “deliver plans that will do more by 2050″ in a bid to reduce greenhouse emissions.

He added: “China is definitely going to launch a very powerful low-carbon development target.”

China is not the only country to have heavily polluted breathable air.

Earlier this year, the annual ‘State of Air’ report – from the American Lung Association – revealed that 150 million Americans are breathing dangerously polluted air.

American Lung Association President and CEO Harold Wimmer said: “The report finds the air quality in some communities has improved, but the ‘State of the Air’ finds that far too many people are still breathing unhealthy air.

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“This year’s report shows that climate change continues to degrade air quality and increase the risk of air pollution harming health.

“To protect the advances in air quality we fought for 50 years ago through the Clean Air Act, we must again act today, implementing effective policies to protect our air quality and lung health against the threat of climate change.”

He added: “Air pollution is linked to greater risk of lung infection.”

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