Asia

Smog causes an estimated 49,000 deaths in Beijing, Shanghai in 2020

SHANGHAI: Air pollution has caused an estimated 49,000 deaths and US$23 billion in economic losses in the cities of Beijing and Shanghai alone since Jan 1, 2020, according to a "clean air counter" launched by environmental groups on Thursday (Jul 9).

The online tool launched by the Helsinki-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), Greenpeace Southeast Asia and IQAir Air Visual, measures smog in 28 major cities worldwide and uses models devised by the Global Burden of Disease research programme to estimate the health impact.

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Higher levels of smog are associated with a wide range of diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, heart disease, stroke and lung cancer.

The economic impact was calculated by estimating factors like work absences and years lost due to illness. Measured on a per capita basis, New Delhi in India suffered the most from pollution, losing an estimated 25,000 lives as well as 5.8 per cent of its total GDP since the start of the year.

READ: India's COVID-19 lockdown gives world's most polluted capital clear skies, clean air

According to the tracker, Shanghai saw an estimated 27,000 deaths from Jan 1, more than the 22,000 in Beijing, partly a reflection of the city's higher population.

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"This also highlights the fact that Shanghai's pollution is now almost as bad as Beijing's, as Beijing has improved a lot faster," said Lauri Myllyvirta, CREA's lead analyst.

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