There has been a huge increase in the use of cars throughout Asia and with it a massive spike in air pollution. The health costs of this are only now becoming apparent with some studies recently published in The Lancet. The study estimates that in 2010 more than two million people died prematurely due to air pollution issues. Specifically this relates to the health problems caused by the tiny particles of soot and the gasses emitted from the exhausts of cars and lorries.
The figures are much worse in Asia and India than the rest of the world but still globally over 3 million people died from pollution related illnesses. The record levels mean that this cuase of death has now entered the world’s top ten killers. It’s a huge worry especially for the effect it will have on children, experts also predict that the vast majority of effects won’t be revealed for many years. The toxic problems of pollution tend to have a long latency periods so many illnesses will be seen in years to come. Given the huge numbers currently being effected then the figures will likely be many times higher in a decade or so.
There are some efforts being put in place to restrict the damage being caused. Technology has helped to some extent particularly with cars and fuel technology however these are negated by the sheer increase in volume of traffic in places like China and India. This is a killer that it is difficult to avoid, toxines are poisoning the very air that people are breathing.
In China, often the problem is not openly confronted because of the control of the state and the restriction of information on issues like this. Although many Chinese now get their news and media from Western sources like the BBC – many people in Beijing for example use techniques like this - http://www.proxyusa.com/bbciplayerabroad2012 to bypass blocks and restrictions.
The levels of pollution in Chinese cities were until recently published by the State but these have stopped. The US embassies have all now started their own monitoring and routinely publish and Tweet the data. China may be experiencing envious economic growth but no body will be jealous of the air that they have to breathe in the major cities.