Measuring the Costs of Air Pollution in China

Nov 1, 2009 | Peter Nelson

China’s rapid economic growth, accompanied by industrialization and rapid urbanization, has come at a high social cost: over 50 percent of China’s urban population is exposed to annual average levels of particulate matter (pm) that are over four times the annual average levels in U.S. cities. Chronic exposure to such pollution is likely to produce significant long-term health effects, including respiratory illness, heart disease, and premature mortality.

Findings from a recent World Bank study involving RFF researchers show that the value of lives lost due to air pollution in 2003 was equivalent to 4 percent of China’s GDP. The researchers conclude that reducing air pollution levels to those experienced in the United States 20 years ago would save over 200,000 lives annually.

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