By Zhou Mingyang

Recently, the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago released its latest research results in Beijing, the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI), and the Air Quality Life Index China Report. Michael Greenstone, project leader and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, said that AQLI is based on two peer-reviewed studies that quantify the causal relationship between long-term human exposure to particulate pollution and life expectancy, directly converting the fine particulate pollution in the air into its impact on people’s life expectancy.

“The index used before, such as the well-known air quality index, marked the air quality as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, but most people couldn’t understand the actual impact of pollution on human health,” said Greenstone. AQLI achieved a new breakthrough in this. AQLI shows that the average human exposure to fine particulate air pollution has reduced life expectancy by nearly two years compared to the safety level recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). In fact, in the living area of 75% of the world’s population, the concentration of fine particulate is higher than the WHO guidelines.

The AQLI index shows that if the concentration of fine particulates in a region declines, the life expectancy of the population in the region will increase. Based on daily monitoring data from more than 200 monitors between 2013 and 2017, the air quality in China’s densely populated areas has improved significantly, ranging from 21% to 42%. AQLI also found that the air pollution level of fine particulates in 2016 was down 12% from 2013.

Greenstone said that if these improvements can be maintained, the average life expectancy of Chinese urban residents will be 2.3 years longer than in 2013. Although there is still a long way to go to meet the WHO air quality standards, China is striving to win the “battle for more blue skies” – once the WHO guidelines are met, the life expectancy of the nation will increase by 2.9 years.

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