Claim: Coal pollution cuts lifespans in north China by 5.5 years

This is junk science because…

… this is an “ecologic” type study, in which the researchers have no idea how much air pollution anyone in the studied populations inhaled. They also have no information on the myriad factors that could explain the reported differences in mortality. In the end, they cannot conclude that air pollution was a factor in anyone’s death.

Moreover, heavy smoking is thought to reduce life expectancy by about 6+ or so years and heavy smokers inhale thousands of time more “air pollution” than non-smokers. Therefore, it is not credible to claim that air pollution reduces life expectancy by 5+ years.

In the end, Chinese air pollution actually debunks the notion that air pollution kills.

Reuters reports:

Air pollution is shortening the lives of people in northern China by about 5.5 years compared to the south, a disastrous legacy of a policy that provided free coal for heating in the north, an international study shows.

Environmental problems are a source of rising social discontent in China; last month Beijing promised new measures to crack down on air pollution, partly by hastening a shift to renewable energy from fossil fuels.

The report, by experts in China, the United States and Israel, said a communist policy of giving out free coal everywhere north of the Huai River in central China between 1950 and 1980 meant more heart and lung disease among 500 million people living in the area.

“Life expectancies are about 5.5 years lower in the north owing to an increased incidence of cardio-respiratory mortality,” the researchers wrote in Tuesday’s edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

3 thoughts on “Claim: Coal pollution cuts lifespans in north China by 5.5 years”

  1. The EPA is claiming both short term and long term mortality effects for PM2.5 and ozone. There is something of a problem in that researchers in this area most often do not provide their data sets. The paper at issue was published in PNAS and PNAS requires that authors make their data sets available so it is possible that there will be further analysis of this data set.

    There are multiple, well-conducted studies that find no effect of air pollution on mortality, short or long-term, in California. Claimed effects are at or near the noise levels and bias of one sort or another can not be ruled out.

  2. Thanks Adam. That needed to be said. FUD from a skeptic is just as bad as FUD from fanatic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.