Air Pollution and Health Policy in China Proposal

The proposed study aims to critically assess the health impact of various forms of air pollution arising from overreliance on coal so as to inform current and future health policy directions in China. Towards the realization of this specific aim, the study will be guided by the following research questions:

1. What are the factors that are influencing the current state of Chinas coal production and use?

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Some of the factors that influence the high production and use of coal in China include enormous population, rapid economic growth, urbanization, and high demand for energy due to rapid industrialization (Kuby et al 795; Zhang & Smith 848).

2. Why does coal pollution still remains a significant threat to the health and wellbeing of the Chinese Population?

While fossil fuels remain the largest single source of energy in many countries around the world, coal still remains the dominant source of energy in China as demonstrated by the fact that the total energy consumption in China has increased 70 percent between 2000 and 2005, with coal consumption increasing by 75 percent (The World Bank xi).

Other scholars demonstrate that coal is the major foundation of the Chinese economy since it was opened to the outside world in 1978, with recent figures indicating that coal now represents 77 percent of Chinas energy production and fuels almost 80 percent of the countrys electricity (Tu & Johnson-Reiser para. 1). These statistics demonstrate that overuse of coal is the primary reason why coal still poses a significant health threat to the people of China.

3. Which coal emissions are harmful to the health and well-being of individuals?

Coal, like fossil-based fuels, contains numerous harmful contaminants that are released into the environment without being destroyed during combustion (Peng et al 2284). Available literature demonstrates that coal ash commonly contains some of the worlds deadliest metals: arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and selenium (Gottlieb et al iii-iv).

Coal combustion releases various harmful elements into the environment, including sulfur dioxide, lead, mercury and nitrogen dioxide (Zhang & Smith 849). The coal dust consisting of fine particulate matter of less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10) is most hazardous to the health and wellbeing of individuals because this dust can be inhaled directly into the lungs where the clearance period of deposited particulates is much longer, hence enhancing the potential for unfavorable health outcomes (; Peng et al 2284).

4. What adverse health outcomes are directly associated with coal pollution in China?

Coal pollution has been directly linked with a multiplicity of respiratory diseases such as black lung disease and pneumoconiosis (Wang & Christiani 320), various forms of cancer (Gottlieb et al iv), adverse lung development, brain damage, coronary heart disease, and other forms of cardiovascular ailments (Lockwood et al vii). It is important to note that pulmonary disease arising from coal pollution is the second largest single cause of adult mortality in China (Peng et al 2290).

5. What interventions could be put in place to minimize the disease burden arising from excessive coal pollution in China?

China needs to move away from overreliance of coal energy and develop other sources of clean energy. The population needs to be educated on how to take precautionary measures in the event that they are exposed to excessive pollution from coal-based activities (Peng et al 2295).

Additionally, the government needs to put in place stringent measures to ensure that individuals suffering from various ailments occasioned by coal pollution are adequately compensated by the responsible companies to ensure compliance with the set regulations on coal production and use (Wang et al 1720).

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