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Editorial: China's Air Quality Dilemma - Reconciling Economic Growth With Environmental Protection
Francesca Dominici, Ph.D., and Murray A. Mittleman, M.D., Dr.P.H., of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, write in an accompanying editorial that "China's dilemma, like many countries with emerging industries, is how to reconcile rapid economic growth with environmental protection."
"In recent decades, China has achieved industrialization and urbanization. However, China has been much less successful in maintaining the quality of urban air. Several factors challenge the implementation of air pollution controls in China: heavy reliance on coal as a main heating system, especially in subsidized housing; lack of political incentives for trading slower growth for less pollution; economic factors: most Chinese factories and power plants run on extremely thin margins and fines for polluting are generally lower than the cost of controlling emissions; and economic transformation of the landscape, from ubiquitous construction sites to the rapid expansion of the nation's vehicle fleet. If air pollution in China and other Asian nations cannot be controlled, it could spread to other continents. A recent study by Lin et al provides compelling evidence that Asian emissions may account for as much as 20 percent of ground-level pollution in the United States. Clean air is a shared global resource. It is in the common interest to maintain air quality for the promotion of global health."
(JAMA. 2012;307:2100-2102. Available pre-embargo to the media at www.jamamedia.org)
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