China Air Quality Fact Sheet 2023

The past two decades of industrial expansion in China have resulted in an exponential increase in air pollution, decreasing the nation’s air quality. These recent spikes in pollutants, such as Particulate Matter (PM), have resulted in health concerns that have subsequently decreased the average life expectancy for residents, in relation to the World Health Organization's (WHO) acceptable guidelines.

Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) Insights and Predictions

  • From 1998-2013, China’s particulate matter pollution increased by 75%.
  • In some of China’s most densely populated regions, such as the northeastern prefectures, PM concentrations exceeded acceptable standards enough to reduce the average person’s life expectancy by 3.4 years.
  • In 2016, PM2.5 concentrations were up to 8 times the acceptable guidelines set out by the WHO at the time (10 µg/m3), with some prefectures at up to 81 µg/m3.

PM Pollution and Mortality

According to a 2022 study observing air quality and PM pollution in China from 2014-2021:

  • “The effect of PM on total rates of mortality, respiratory, and cardiovascular mortality decreased during 2014-2019”.
  • The current levels of air pollution in China, including high levels of PM pollutants, may have serious adverse effects on human health.
  • PM2.5 and PM10 concentrations significantly reduced in Jiangsu, one of the most highly polluted regions, throughout the 7-year period.

Another 2022 study observed the effect that air quality, and PM concentrations, had on mortality rates of children under 5 in China:

  • A 10 µg/m3 increase in PM2.5 concentration was significantly associated with increased mortality in children under 5.
  • Exposure to PM2.5 had significant associations with mortality rates from pneumonia, diarrhea, and digestive diseases.
  • Newborn children (28 days or younger) were most susceptible to the effects of PM2.5 concentrations on mortality.
  • Warmer seasons increase the risk of under-5 mortality related to excess PM2.5 concentrations.

Improved Air Quality Can Increase the Life Expectancy of Chinese Citizens

IN 2014, China’s Prime Minister declared a plan to drastically reduce pollution, implementing measures to improve national air quality by reducing pollutants. According to the data collected by the AQLI:

  • Beijing residents were exposed to 6% less PM pollution in 2016 than in 2013.
  • With a 20% reduction in pollution from 2013-2016, Henan province increased its average life expectancy by 1.3 years.
  • As of 2016, reducing PM concentrations in China to the WHO’s guidelines would add 2.9 years of life expectancy to Chinese citizens.

Monitoring Regional Air Quality

Based on the most recent research, studies confirm that PM2.5 levels in China may have adverse effects on human health, going so far as to say that they may lower life expectancy. Newborns and children under 5 are especially susceptible to the effects of elevated PM concentrations.

Monitoring local air quality is the best way to ensure that your exposure is limited, providing you are your young ones with protection and peace of mind. PurpleAir provides residents with local air quality data.

Monitor the Particulate Matter levels around the world with our free, real-time PurpleAir Map or join PurpleAir's mission to make air quality data accessible to everyone by investing in an air quality monitor for your home. 

Together, we can be informed and make changes in our daily habits and the community to improve air quality.