China’s Haze and Public Health

Authors: Qiong Zhang*, Michigan State University, Sue Grady, Michigan State University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, China
Keywords: Haze, China, PM2.5, Public Health
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Oak Alley, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Air quality in urban China has deteriorated to levels that are known to be harmful to human health, which is evidenced by the appearance of Wumai (Haze). Haze is a weather phenomenon that is caused by evenly suspended high ambient concentrations of fine particulate matters (PM2.5) and hazardous air pollutants, resulting in the deterioration of horizontal visibility to less than 10 kilometers. PM2.5 is generally assigned as a surrogate for the haze and is widely regarded as the single best indicator of air pollution-related risk to public health. Less is known however, about how policy is derived to determine environmental standards of PM2.5—haze to protect human health in China as the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection(CMEP) has strict control over air quality data. The goal of this study is to investigate China’s haze standards in relation to parallel regulations developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO). This analysis was conducted in Xianyang City (2014-2017), a mid-sized city in China experiencing rapid industrial, commercial, and residential growth. The findings showed that the severity of PM2.5-haze pollution increased dramatically after the measurement was shifted from the CMEP standards to the EPA standards. Using the WHO standards people would be advised to stay indoors during the entire study time period. These findings suggest that even though China is progressing in its adoption of international air quality regulations, the untoward effects on public health caused during this process should not be neglected and demand further modification.

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