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All Choked Up In China


Pollution in China

Image source: David Grey/Reuters

Earlier this year pictures of the air pollution swathing the skies in China’s highly inhabited cities like Shanghai, Beijing, Xian and Guangzhou were released, and it is hard to imagine living and working in that environment.

Overdue reports on the increasingly bad breathing quality disclosed that the air’s particle count had exploded to 755 in Beijing, the largest amount ever recorded there.

The air was thick with PM2.5, which is a tiny element filled with numerous toxins like heavy metals, chemicals and microorganisms.

It can enter the bloodstream when breathed in and can contribute to health issues like cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

Peking University’s School of Public Health in consortium with Greenpeace East Asia stated that upwards of 8,500 individuals died prematurely in these four cities alone in 2012 due to complications from contaminated air.

Some causes of this extreme air pollution are massive coal usage, inexpensive gas from automobiles and other pollutants combined with a manufacturing environment that is under-regulated. The air pollution in China has reached astronomical levels, and can actually be viewed in aerial photographs from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Air pollution in China

Image source: China Daily/Reuters

Industrialized business as usual is clearly not working for the people who have to live in these areas. In addition to firmer ecological regulatory practices, corporations, importers and exporters should have an ethical responsibility to make sure their products don’t harm the environment or workers who produce them. Companies globally profit from what is made in these cities and they should be accountable for the environmental alterations caused, and need to understand the cyclical effects of polluted business practices.

Other companies who seek to profit from the increased pollution levels also exist, marketing things like purified air in a can and expensive decorative face masks.

There are also filtered air domes where fresh air is pumped inside and activities can be carried out when the air quality is poor.

Obviously, people must perform daily routines and precautions including masks and fresh breathing areas are in fact needed to reduce exposure to pollutants when being outdoors. However, seeking lucrative profit from the vulnerability of others is unprincipled.

It is hard to imagine the worry carried around by those living with such elevated levels of air pollution.

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