Solving Cities

Air pollution costs China $112 billion

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As China's cities get bigger, MIT researchers found that the costs linked to air pollution are also dramatically increasing.

As China's cities dramatically grow, the country's health costs from air pollution are also increasing rapidly.

A new study from MIT found that air pollution cost the Chinese economy $112 billion in 2005, a significant increase from the $22 billion that air pollution cost the country in 1975.

Specifically, the study calculated the health costs and the resulting lost productivity caused by air pollution. Along with China's rapid urbanization, researchers determined that the increase in costs comes from a larger population and higher incomes resulting in steeper costs from lost productivity.

The rising economic impact from air pollution comes in spite of the fact that China has made significant improvements in air quality during the 30-year period analyzed by researchers.

But China will need to take swift action to curb the high costs of air pollution to human health and the economy, as China's urbanization shows no sign of slowing. Earlier this year, China announced that for the first time ever, a majority of its population is urban.

Read the study, "Health damages from air pollution in China."

Photo: Sunset Noir/Flickr

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Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure