By Lin Xiaochun Lin

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently published the latest research report on the air quality difference between the north and south of the Huai River Heating Line and its impact on life expectancy. According to the report, in the area near the north and south of the Huai River heating line, the long-term exposure level of PM10 (inhalable particulate matter) in the north is about 46% higher than that in the south, and the life expectancy of northern residents is about 3.1 years less than that in the south. How did this conclusion come out? Is the research reliable? Xinhua Daily Telegraph interviewed the researchers and some domestic and foreign experts in relevant fields.

Guojun He, an assistant professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Maoyong Fan, an associate professor of economics at the Ball State University, USA, participated in the study. Before the paper was officially published, Guojun He and Maoyong Fan emphasized in an e-mail: “Our findings may easily cause a misunderstanding that ‘the heating policy has led to a reduction in the life expectancy of northerners, so central heating should be scrapped”, But this is wrong. If there were no central heating in cold northern areas, people would rely on burning coal to heat up, which would lead to more serious air pollution and more damage to health.”

The study predicts that if the PM10 concentrations across China can meet the national Class I standard of 40μg/m3, the average life expectancy will increase by about 3 years. The two authors pointed out that in recent years measures such as “coal to gas” and “coal to electricity” have been taken in many areas in China to reduce air pollution during the heating period. At the same time, environmental regulation in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region has become more stringent. “We believe that these positive changes will bring significant improvements in the health and welfare of Chinese people in the long run.”

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