Coal-burning kills

Northern Chinese life expectancy shortened by coal smoke

Heart and lung disease related to air pollution from burning coal is responsible for shortening the lives of residents of northern China by 5 1/2 years as compared to those living in the southern part of the country, new research reveals.

Severe pollution in the north is associated with the Chinese government’s policy from 1950 to 1980 of giving free coal to those living north of the Huai River, according to National Geographic. While the coal is no longer free, it is still subsidized.

“We can now say with more confidence that long-run exposure to pollution, especially particulates, has dramatic consequences for life expectancy,” said Michael Greenstone, MIT economics professor and collaborator on the study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.