Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How Does Bad Air Affect the Economy?

 Ripple effects of air pollution felt in many sectors (China Daily, Dec. 10, 2013)

Also discussed here: Smog Hits Half Of China, 104 Cities Severely Polluted (Lu Chen, Epoch Times, Dec. 8, 2013)

And here: Air pollution kills 21,000 Canadians each year - Transportation-related emissions to blame, say UBC researchers (Pamela Fayerman, Vancouver Sun, Oct. 22, 2013

And here : Commissioner hints at new EU air quality measures (Air Quality news, Dec. 11, 2013)

Today we review a news story which brought up an interesting aspect of heavy air pollution and the reaction by the people it affects – mainly the older and younger generations. In this case, it is an example from large polluted Chinese cities, but the levels observed are not that much different from those observed in the downtowns of many large congested western cities, so the same reaction and impacts can be expected. This includes the travel industry where those with the time and money to travel deliberately – the baby boomers over 65 - chose destinations with cleaner air and avoid those with polluted air. Schools are closed in China for the same reason that those in urban areas of the USA and Canada which are within 200 m of heavy traffic should be closed.

While the Chinese government seeks to improve its air quality (by 20% in 4 years!), and action is being taken to strengthen EU air quality guidelines, their counterparts in Canada and USA focus only on ambient air standards while roadside air quality becomes worse as cities attract more and more polluting vehicles and traffic congestion. Only one jurisdiction in Canada (Halton Region in southwestern Ontario) has taken steps to monitor roadside emission and keep heavy traffic away from residences because of vehicle pollution and the health threat this represents. Meanwhile, more people die from air pollution than from obesity and traffic accidents combined (at last count, 21,000 premature deaths each year in Canada).

 Heavy Smog Hits East China  

Key Quotes:

“Data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection shows that air quality in 104 cities in 20 provinces are suffering from heavy pollution…China’s air pollution in 2013 is the worst in the past 52 years, and 13 provinces have set all time highs for air pollution this year”

“The air quality index published by the US Consulate stood at 442 ("hazardous") at 7 am, falling to 185 ("unhealthy") by 5 pm. The figures reported by the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center were 179 and 238 at those same times.”

"Demand for food deliveries has surged a lot…Of the people coming to our restaurant, 80 percent are wearing a mask”

"People didn't pay special attention to air quality when they chose destinations before, but now clean air is a major attraction, especially for the senior age group…Over the weekend, we have seen people cancel their trips to cities with severe pollution, like Nanjing…destinations with relatively clear air — such as Xiamen, in Fujian province, Sanya, in Hainan, and Lijiang, in Yunnan — have become more popular”

 "Young children are more vulnerable to pollutants, so classes in kindergartens and primary schools should be suspended on such polluted days,"

"The target is to reduce the concentration of PM2.5 by 20 percent in 2017 from 2012 levels in Shanghai and the provinces of Zhejiang and Jiangsu,"

[in Canada] "Nearly a third of the country's population lives within 500 metres of a highway or 100 metres from a major urban road, exposing them to toxic fumes from more than 15,000 cars per day,”

[in the EU] “The Commission will adopt a new and ambitious air quality package, based on a thorough review of the existing air policy, launched in early 2011. The review was based on almost three years of intensive consultations with stakeholders, a thorough analysis of the latest scientific evidence on air pollution, a full assessment of the pros and cons of the existing EU air policy, and its impact on health and environment, and an in-depth examination of available cost-effective measures”
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