Updated 05:50 PM EDT, Fri, May 25, 2018

Air Pollution Now Fourth Biggest Health Risk in China, Ex Top Health Minister Reveals

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The man who once held the top positions in the Chinese government has now revealed that air pollution is one of the biggest killers in the country, trailing only heart disease, dietary risk and smoking as the biggest annual killer in the country.

Chen Zhu, who until March 2013 was the health minister of China, revealed in The Lancet Medical Journal that between 350,000 and 500,000 die each year due to the severe air pollution that plagues China. To put these numbers in perspective, the conservative 350,000 figure is the equivalent amount of people in the United States that die every year from chronic lower respiratory diseases, strokes, and accidents combined according to the CDC.

This announcement is very significant, as the Chinese government usually censors facts and figures concerning the toll that air pollution takes on citizens of the country. Chen is the highest ranking official to give a definitive statement concerning the death toll that air pollution produces in the rapidly industrializing country. It is also estimated by Chen that China is the leading pollution producer in the entire world. The minister also stated that, if China were to adopt stricter and more modern means of regulating pollution that 200,000 deaths per year could be avoided.

While this news certain is very grim and tragic, a new study published in Springer magazine may show that a rather simple but ingenious solution to the problem may have been discovered. Shaocai Yu of Zhejiang University in China, and North Carolina State University completed a study that shows that if building in China used giant water sprayers for 30 minutes a day the pollution levels in the air over China would be greatly reduced. This is due to the natural effect water has in removing aerosol and gaseous pollutants from the air, and by recycling this water Chinese cities could drastically reduce the amount of pollutants found in the air. As Yu explains in the article:
"With careful and considered evaluation beforehand for each area in the cities, this geoengineering approach can be environmentally safe without significant side effects. It can also be deployed easily within communities and on a massive scale at low cost...If you can spend half an hour watering your garden, you can also spend 30 minutes watering your ambient atmosphere to keep the air clean with this technique."

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