Claim: The Deadly Problem of Urban Air Pollution

Vikas Bajaj is a New York Times reporter who forgot to say to the World Health Organization, “show me a body.”

From the NYTimes:

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Despite the grim-looking photo of Beijing air, there are no reports coming out of Beijing of anyone dropping dead from it.

It’s also interesting to note that while the level of PM2.5 in Beijing is about 10 times higher on average in Beijing than, say, Washington, DC, life expectancy in Beijing is several years greater than in Washington, DC.

The notion that air pollution kills, either on a short-term or long-term basis, has no basis in reality.

5 thoughts on “Claim: The Deadly Problem of Urban Air Pollution”

  1. Unlikely China would publicize deaths from pollution even if they could identify them as such. They would be more likely to say people died because their chi was unbalanced. The absence of death reports from China is not evidence of the presence or absence of a problem. And you would expect D.C. to have a lower life expectancy because of their black-crime situation which Beijing does not have.

  2. I repeat my comment-
    Steve,
    to say ‘Poor air quality kills no one’ is the height of ignorance; you obviously have no experience of real Air pollution.
    Try telling ‘Poor air quality kills no one’ to the miners, iron & steel workers, farmers, chemical workers quarrymen who cough their bits of lung up every day after doing hard manual labor for years in polluted atmospheres.

    Try telling ‘Poor air quality kills no one’ to family’s like mine who had loved ones choke to death in British streets in the urban smog’s of the1950s.
    I can’t show you the bodies….but I can show you the graves !!

    You sit in your air-conditioned room dreaming up crass statements on your computer; it would educate you to trace how many people have to work in polluted atmospheres to allow you live such a comfortable lifestyle.

    You really don’t know how the other 75% live….or don’t care !!

  3. Not so. There are plenty of foreign observers and researchers in China — the US embassy for one which monitors air quality on its own. Also China permits researchers to study mortality from air pollution and publish studies. No doubt there are plenty of possible explanations for the difference in longevity between Beijing and Washington, but there is no credible evidence that air quality is one of them.

  4. Coal miners and other workers — especially non-smokers — exposed to poor air quality actually live longer than other workers, though they may die from different causes or suffer peculiar maladies, e.g., black lung. The conditions of the London fogs of the 19th and centuries no longer exist anywhere in the world — even in China and India. Watch for my upcoming book which explains past episodes of fatal air pollution and lays low the myth of ‘deadly’ air pollution in today’s world.

  5. Having asthma growing up in the 50’s I lived with LA’s terrible smog. I don’t see anything close to that level of pollution today. I cannot believe outdoor pollution kills anybody.

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