Some, but not all, of the steps taken during the Olympics have been continued, the researchers said, including some reductions in coal-burning emissions and other measures.
Other issues are more problematic. The number of vehicles in Beijing, for instance, is continuing to increase 13 percent a year, the report noted. "Controlling vehicle emissions is key to reducing the inhalation cancer risks due to PAH exposure in Chinese megacities," the researchers wrote in their study.
Outdoor air pollution is a major health concern in China, the researchers said in their report. Associated health care costs are possibly as high as 3.8 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, according to the World Bank.
It's been estimated that 300,000 people a year die in China from heart disease and lung cancer associated with ambient air pollution, including PAHs.
This research found that in Beijing, a metropolitan area with 22 million people, the existing level of PAH pollution would lead to about 21,200 lifetime cases of lung cancer, but that would drop to 11,400 cases if pollution controls similar to those imposed during the 2008 Olympics were sustained.
"This is definitely a health concern and one that deserves attention in China by both the government and public," said Yuling Jia, a postdoctoral research associate at OSU and co-author on this study.
"It's also worth noting that the leading PAH emitter in rural China is not automobiles or things like coal-fired power plants, but the biomass burning associated with many other local activities, such as wood fuel used for cooking or heating, or the burning of agricultural fields," Jia said
|Contact: Staci Simonich|
Oregon State University