Toxic Smog Puts Cancer as Leading Cause of Death in China

By Dr. David Suzuki, EcoWatch – Beijing’s 21-million residents live in a toxic fog of particulate matter, ozone, sulphur dioxide, mercury, cadmium, lead and other contaminants, mainly caused by factories and coal burning. Schools and workplaces regularly shut down when pollution exceeds hazardous levels. People have exchanged paper and cotton masks for more elaborate, filtered respirators. Cancer has become the leading cause of death in the city and throughout the country. Chinese authorities, often reluctant to admit to the extent of any problem, can no longer deny the catastrophic consequences of rampant industrial activity and inadequate regulations. According to Bloomberg News, Beijing’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention says that, although life expectancy doubled from 1949 to 2011, “the average 18-year-old Beijinger today should prepare to spend as much as 40 percent of those remaining, long years in less than full health, suffering from cancer, cardiovascular disease and arthritis, among...

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Texas Aligns Itself with Industry in Fight Against Tighter Smog Standards

By Jamie Smith Hopkins, Center for Public Integrity – The testimony sounds the refrains of industry groups: Tightening the country’s smog standard would be too costly and isn’t necessary for public health. But these comments weren’t from industry. They were written by the chairman of Texas’ environmental-protection agency. The state is as aggressive as some trade associations in battling a proposed tightening of health standards for ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog that costs billions of dollars to reduce. Officials there have spoken before Congress, hired a consultant to question the health benefits of a more stringent standard — a firm that did the same for the American Petroleum Institute — and introduced bills to fundamentally change how ozone is regulated nationwide. This is a long-standing strategy for Texas, where power plants, cement factories, refineries and other facilities let loose far more ozone-causing pollutants from their stacks and vents...

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China Smog Documentary Goes Viral With 200 Million Views in 5 Days (VIDEO)

By Cole Mellino, EcoWatch – Under the Dome, a documentary about China’s massive air pollution problem, has been viewed more than 200 million times since it was released last Saturday. It’s being hailed as China’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and an eye opener for the Chinese public by Ma Jun, the director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs. The documentary, which has a similar presentation style to An Inconvenient Truth, was made by Chai Jing, an investigative reporter and anchor at state broadcaster China Central Television. Last year, she left her job to take care of her daughter, who was successfully treated for a benign tumor. In the 104-minute film, Chai describes how difficult it has been to tell her daughter she can’t play outside. “In Beijing in 2014, I could only take her out when the air was good,” she says during a presentation to a studio audience, which appears in the...

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Industry Groups Are Freaking Out About Obama’s New Smog Pollution Rule

by EMILY ATKIN – The Environmental Protection Agency issued a new draft proposed rule on Tuesday to tighten already-existing restrictions on ground-level ozone pollution, the main ingredient of urban smog. Under the draft proposal, states would be required to lower the level of ozone pollution allowed to be in the air. Right now, the current standard is 75 parts per billion, and the new rule would change that to somewhere between 65 to 70 parts per billion. The rule would require some states with bad pollution to expand their ozone pollution monitoring, and require improvements to systems that notify the public when their air quality is at an unhealthy level. The EPA predicts this will do wonders for public health and, by extension, the economy. Scientists say that ground-level, or “bad” ozone is a pollutant with significant health risk, with the potential to reduce lung function and aggravate asthma, especially in...

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Putting ‘Health Above Polluters,’ EPA Proposes New Ozone Limits

By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams – In a bid to protect public health and reduce the smog pollution that’s been linked to respiratory problems, asthma attacks, and cardiovascular damage, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday unveiled new air quality standards for ozone—though some suggested they might not go far enough. Ground-level ozone forms when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun from sources like vehicles, factories, power plants, and certain fumes from fuels, solvents and paints. People most at risk from breathing air containing ozone include people with asthma, children, older adults, and those who are active or work outside. The EPA’s proposal would strengthen air quality standards to within a range of 65 to 70 parts per billion (ppb); the EPA said it will take comment on a level as low as 60 ppb. The agency last updated these standards in 2008, setting them...

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