Air Pollution Causes 4,400 Deaths In China Every Single Day: Study

More than one-third of the Chinese population regularly breathes "unhealthy" air, researchers say.
In this May 29, 2015 photo, a man walks past a coal-powered steel plant in Tianjin, China. According to a new study, about 4,400 people in China die every day because of air pollution. (Associated Press)

Air pollution is killing about 4,400 people in China every single day, according to a new study.

Researchers from Berkeley Earth, a California-based climate research organization, calculated that about 1.6 million people in China die every year from health issues caused by the country’s notoriously polluted air.

According to the study, more than one-third of the Chinese population regularly breathe air that would be considered “unhealthy” by U.S. standards.

It’s a very big number,” the study’s lead author, Robert Rohde, told The Associated Press. “It’s a little hard to wrap your mind around the numbers.”

The study looked at four months of data from 1,500 ground stations across China, Taiwan and South Korea. The research is set to be published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One.

As The New York Times notes, air pollution -- particularly exposure to fine airborne particles -- can cause a variety of health problems, including asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. The World Health Organization said last year that 7 million people die annually because of exposure to polluted air.

China has struggled for years to control its air pollution problems, which are primarily caused by the burning of coal in factories and power plants, as well as vehicle use.

In April, Greenpeace reported that, of 360 cities in China, less than 10 percent had successfully met national air quality standards in the first quarter of 2015.

Previous studies have estimated that between 1.2 and 2 million people die due to air pollution in China every year.

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