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China Air Pollution Kills 4,000 People a Day, Study Says
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According to the study published August 13 by Berkeley Earth, an independent research group funded largely by educational grants, air pollution is killing an average of 4,000 people a day in China.  The researchers cited coal-burning as the likely principal cause, related to its main pollutant, PM2.5 that can trigger heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and asthma.  Total deaths are 1.6 million a year, or 17 percent of China's mortality level,


Richard Muller, scientific director of Berkeley Earth and co-author Robert Rohde analyzed four months of hourly data for some 1,500 ground stations in China and then employed a model used by the World Health Organization to calculate the disease burden.  For 38 percent of the population, the average pollution level across the entire four-month period was deemed unhealthy.  They also found that 92 percent of China's population experienced at least 120 hours of unhealthy air from April 5, 2014, to August 5, 2015.   


The researchers also examined where the pollutants were detected and concluded that the sources of PM2.5 matching those for sulfur dioxide suggests most of the pollution comes from burning coal.  China gets about 64 percent of its primary energy from coal, according to National Energy Administration data, and is closing the dirtiest plants while still building new, cleaner ones.  The country is expected to shut 60 gigawatts of plants from 2016 to 2020 though three times as many plants are scheduled to be built using newer technology.
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