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Pollution controls used during China Olympics could save lives if continued
Date:2/7/2011

CORVALLIS, Ore. The air pollution control measures that were put in place in Beijing during the 2008 Olympic Games if continued would cut almost in half the lifetime risk of lung cancer for the area's residents from certain inhaled pollutants, a new study concludes.

This might translate to about 10,000 fewer lifetime cases of lung cancer in this large metropolitan area, scientists said, which is only one of several in China that have unhealthy levels of air pollution, largely from the burning of coal, biomass and automobile exhaust in a rapidly growing economy.

The findings were published today in Environmental Health Perspectives, a professional journal, by researchers from Oregon State University and Peking University in Beijing. This is one of the first studies to actually study the health benefits of pollution control strategies in a Chinese population.

The research looked at the chemical composition and carcinogenic impact of a range of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs a group of compounds that result from almost any type of combustion, ranging from a wood stove to a coal-fired power plant or an automobile's exhaust.

PAHs are known pollutants that have been of declining concern in the United States due to pollution controls and the move to cleaner forms of energy production, but are making a huge comeback in the developing world with the advent of industrialization, population growth and heavy use of fossil fuels.

Other OSU research has also found that the level of pollutants in some Asian nations is now so high that PAH compounds are crossing the Pacific Ocean and being deposited in the U.S., even in remote areas. China is now the leading emitter of PAH pollutants in the world, followed by India and the United States.

"PAH pollution was definitely reduced by the actions China took during the 2008 Olympics, such as restricting vehicle use, decreasing coal combustion and closing some
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Contact: Staci Simonich
staci.simonich@oregonstate.edu
541-737-9194
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert

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