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It is no secret that China is one of the biggest contributors to pollution in the world today. When people talk about modern-day China, the images that come to mind are that of smog-laden cities and high levels of the industry. It is such a far cry from the bamboo forests and pagodas associated with it in ancient times.
There is a reason for that; Beijing suffers from an excess of PM2.5 and PM10 (particulate matter). These microparticles can be the cause of illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis and some of China's biggest health threats such as; lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Until recently, the statistics surrounding the total amount of people within China that are affected by pollution-caused illnesses was kept strictly censored. However, according to China's ex-Health Minister, Chen Zhu, r of their 1.4 billion strong population, China's air pollution alone kills between 350,000 to 500,000 people per year. This means that there is roughly a 1 in 300 chance that a Chinese citizen will be killed by air pollution.
A US-based nonprofit group called Berkeley Earth released a report indicating that when the pollution levels reach a hazardous status in Beijing, it is as if every man, woman, and child who lives there smoked 1.5 cigarettes per hour regardless of their lifestyle.