Average lifespan in China extends by half a year as PM 2.5 density drops 12 percent

Blue sky over Beijing. (Photo/Chinanews.com)

The life expectancy of Chinese citizens has been extended by half a year thanks to the remarkable achievements of China’s air pollution control, causing a significant drop in the PM 2.5 density, according to the Air Quality Life Index, recently released in Beijing by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

The Index indicates that China’s PM 2.5 density fell by 12 percent between 2013 and 2016, a pollution reduction equivalent to an additional half a year to the average lifespan.

Tianjin, one of the three most polluted Chinese cities in 2013, saw a decline of 14 percent PM 2.5 density in 2016. If this improvement is maintained, 13 million citizens living in the city are expected to see their average lifespan increase by 1.2 years.

Henan, a central province in China, also witnessed improved air quality. Statistics showed that the length of time people are exposed to PM 2.5 in the region is down 20 percent compared with 2013, meaning they could live an average of 1.3 years longer.

Air pollution has continued to be a severe issue for China. In 2010, it caused 1.2 million premature deaths and a reduction of 25 million healthy life years (the number of years that a person is expected to live in a healthy condition).

According to standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the permissible density of PM 2.5 is ten micrograms per cubic meter, while China’s national ambient air quality standard is still more than three times that figure.

Average life expectancy in China could be raised from 76 years to 79 years if the WHO standard is reached, the Index noted.

Robert OKeefe, vice president of the US Health Effects Institute, said that China has responded well to air pollution, bringing substantial public health benefits. Early deaths, as well as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, have already been dramatically reduced.