Air pollution in Shanghai

Shanghai experienced one of the worst air pollution crises last yearin January. Shanghai daily reports revealed that approximately 35% ofthe first three months of 2013 were particularly considered veryhazardous to human health (health and safety 1). This does not meanthat past years have been any better. The situation of air pollutionhas continued to deteriorate raising an alarm for health concerns andenvironmental sustenance. Bad air quality has been an issue forseveral years in China with Shanghai being the worst hit. Thesituation is so serious that all one needs to do to realize howextremely serious this situation is just look outside the window.

As a result, of air pollution, serious health effects have come upleading the situation to be classified as level group 1 humancarcinogen and similar to tobacco levels. For WHO to classify theextreme air pollution in shanghai as similar to conditions that arecancer causing, extreme effects must have been felt. Studies revealthat the Chinese people are paying a high price for air pollution.About 8.57 premature deaths, US 1.08B dollars of economic lossesoccurred following excessive PM2.5 in Shanghai and other citiesreports health and safety (1). The impact of China’s degradationand natural resource degradation is equivalent to 9% of the GDPaccording to World Bank reports.

China is a result of higher usage of coalmainly during winter. The high usage of coal in the northern part ofChina has also led to cutting down life expectancies by more thanfive years as compared to the southern part of China. This researchpaper will investigate the impact of air pollution in Shanghai.

Research objectives

Investigate the air pollution in Shanghai (causes)

The impact of air pollution in Shanghai

Literature review


According to Yang and Yun (470), Shanghai is the largest city inChina and has been a favorite for tourists and visitors. The citythat was once recognized for its charming winding alleys, creativemusic, art scenes, rich cultural displays, exclusive action films andclose proximity to the sea no longer attracts visitors. Today theinhabitants of Shanghai are in danger and leaving the air pollutedcity. Shanghai’s reliance on coal fired boilers for electricityproduction and industrial use are attributed to air pollution to alarge extent. Besides the use of coal, automobile traffic fumes fromnumerous industries in the city and other factors like smoking arealso responsible for air pollution. Many households and industriesdepend on electricity for household use and industrial applicationsfrom coal fired boilers, making it the first cause of air pollution.Coal fired boilers are fossil fuels that largely pollute theenvironment. According to Renjie et al. (238), levels of outdoor airpollution in shanghais are the highest in China as coal accounts formore than 70% of all energy sources. There is an urgent need forShanghai to reconsider their sources of energy and use moreenvironment friendly sources of energy for the sake of theenvironment and human health.

Impact/ effects

The extreme air pollution in this city has seen Shanghai authoritieswarn people to stay indoors many times as air pollution levels wentbeyond what WHO deem as safe to breathe. The value of air to humanbeings is indeed very crucial for human life. Human beings cannotsurvive or manufacture air thus making this rare gift valuable andirreplaceable. Air pollution directly puts human life at risk andposes as a health hazard argues Jacobson (73). Apart from that, itmakes survival of other organisms and plants impossible. In otherwords, air pollution poses as a challenge to the sustainability ofthe environment.

Moreover, it is potentially a blow to shanghai economy, which istrying to position itself as a fast developing city in the world andcommercial hub in a free trade zone. Bad air pollution could hamperfinancial and economic efforts to develop Shanghai making it lesslikely to advance like other cities. Professionals may be forced torelocate from the city due to health concerns to seek for safer andless polluted cities like Hong Kong or elsewhere. The continuedrelocation from shanghai greatly minimizes chances of growth. With afewer population, it may become impossible to have enough labor forcewho are actively involved in the production and advancement of theeconomy.

Health effects

The research carried out on ambient air pollution and hospitaladmissions revealed an association between outdoor air pollution andadverse health effects in Shanghai, China. According to Renjie et al.(234), daily mortality has been associated with particulate andgaseous ambient pollution in single cities and multi-cities ofmainland China, the largest developing country in the world.Replicating findings of developed cities like Shanghai in China willbe useful in finding a relationship between outdoor air pollution andsocio-demographic status of local residents such as age, structure,disease pattern and socioeconomic characteristics. An investigationon associations of ambient air pollution and daily hospitals wascarried out between 2005-2007 in Shanghai China. In 2000, Shanghaihad a population of 13.2million people representing 1% of the entireChina. An investigation was done on daily hospital admissionsrevealing that a total of 1.7 hospital admissions happened which isapproximately 1555 daily admissions. Amongst these admissions, 340suffered from cardiovascular diseases and 123 respiratory ailments(Renjie et al. 236). The study showed that outdoor air pollution wasassociated to cardiovascular and respiratory disease admissions inShanghai in 2005-2007.

Asthma and respiratory ailments

Jing et al. (191) discovered that air pollution is an importantcontributing factor of asthma and exacerbation in Shanghai. In theirstudy on acute effects of air pollution, they investigated airpollution effects on asthma hospitalization in Shanghai. Globalinitiative reports for Asthma in 2004 revealed that asthma is beenestimated to affect 300 million people and kills one in every 250people per annum. It creates substantial economic and health careburdens on the country. Asthma is more prevalent in higher citieslike Shanghai as compared to developing cities. Asthmatic populationin China has reached 30 million according to Jing et al. (201), withShanghai listed amongst the risk factors. This study is yet anotherrevelation of how air pollution contributes to health issues.

Higher mortality rates and deaths

Evidence from another study on air pollution showed that currentconcentrations of PM, SO2 and NO2 in the Shanghai atmosphere isdirectly associated to daily mortality. Gas pollutants in the airespecially SO2 are more closely associated with the risk of death(Kan and Chen 362). Concentration of these gases causes respiratorydiseases and cardiovascular ailments as well as weakens the bodymaking it more vulnerable to other diseases that can cause death.Long-term exposure to polluted air also decreases the life span andputs the health of individuals at risk.


Each research used a unique method to come up with the datacollected regarding air pollution in Shanghai. The research onambient air pollution and acute effects of air pollution in Shanghaiused statistical analysis through retrieved data from hospitaladmission records. The study on mortality rates in Shanghai used thestatistical model method and log linear models to investigate airpollution and relative risks of air pollution in terms ofseasonality, weather, longer term trends and days of the week (Kanand Chen 361). Descriptive analysis explained the causes and impactof air pollution in Shanghai.


Through the research, it became evident that Shanghai city isexperiencing the worst air quality in its history. The use of coalfor energy sources is a major contributor to air pollution whileother factors like fumes from vehicles and industries also contributeto air pollution. The effects of air pollution are numerous includinghealth issues like asthma, respiratory problems and cardiovascularailments (Jia et al. 49). Death and mortality are also seriouseffects of air pollution while economic effects glare at Shanghai.There is a dire need to get the environmental issue in checkimmediately. China can tackle the environmental challenge throughcreating a comprehensive plan to deal with pollution in one of itslargest cities. The proposed airborne pollution prevention plan of2013-17 is a good start, while other options should be looking foralternative energy sources in place of coal.


To deal with health effects like asthma and respiratory diseasesresulting from as a result air pollution in Shanghai, China has putup several safety measures. This health and environmental safetymeasures will ensure that air pollution is minimized and slow downthe future effects of pollution in Shanghai. Dealing with theepisteme of this problem is the best solution to end it. Replacingthe use of coal with sustainable or alternative energy sources is thebest measure for China to deal with its root of air pollution. Plansto utilize wind and solar energy are already underway greatlyreducing the risk of air pollution. This problem will not only solveShanghai’s problem, but the entire Chinese challenge in combatingair pollution. Solutions that will promote the ecology and protectthe environment are another significant strategy of dealing with airpollution. China is currently working with green peace a lead NGO tocampaign on the reduction of air pollution. According to green peacemeasures like improved urban planning with more green spaces,tightened power plant emissions, information on air quality availedto the public and introducing cleaner fuels will go a long way inhelping to deal with air pollution in Shanghai, China.

Works cited

Health and safety in Shanghai China. Air pollution in Chinaand how to protect yourself, Shanghai daily, 2013, from china.html

Jacobson, Mark.&nbspAirPollution and Global Warming: History, Science, and Solutions.Cambridge [etc.: Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp.73-4. Print.

Jia, Li. Sarath, Guttikunda. Gregory, Carmichael, David, Streets,Young-Soo Chang. “Quantifying the human health benefits of curbingair pollution in Shanghai, “Journal of environmentalmanagement, 2004, Vol. 70 (1), pp.49-62

Jing, Cai. Ang. Zhao, Jinzhuo, Zhao. Renjie, Chen. Weibing, Wang.Sandie, Ha, Xiaohui, Xu. and Haidong, Kan. “Acute effects of airpollution on asthma hospitalization in Shanghai,

China,” Environmental Pollution 191, 2014, 139e144 fromhttp://ac.els- main.pdf?_tid=137fd416-6fdc-11e4-bb6b- 00000aab0f27&ampacdnat=1416395354_98db1d23d39a6c349a36e8f4275823e7

Kan, Haiding and Chen, Bingheng. “Air pollution and daily mortalityin Shanghai,” A time series study, archives ofenvironmental health ,department of environmental health,Fudan University, Shanghai, China, 2003, vol.58(No.6). from [email protected]&amphid=112

Renjie, Chen. Chen, Chub. Jianguo, Tanc.Junshan, Caoa. Weimin, Songa. Xiaohui, Xud. Cheng, Jiange. Wenjuan,Maa. Chunxue, Yanga. Bingheng, Chena. Yonghao, Gui b. Haidong, Kana.&nbsp&quotAmbient air pollution and hospital admission inShanghai, China,&quot Journal of hazardous materials&nbsp(0304-3894),2010,&nbspvol.181&nbsp(1-3),&nbsppp. 234-240. From 07

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Yang, Ru andYun, Sung.&nbspShanghai:Transformation and Modernization Under China`s Open Policy.Hong Kong: Chinese University press, 1996. Print.