Air pollution is killing an estimated 4,000 people a day in the mainland, and now accounts for one in six premature deaths in the country. That's the finding of a new study by physicists at the University of California, Berkeley.
They calculated that about 1.6 million people in the mainland die each year from heart, lung and stroke problems because of incredibly polluted air, especially small particles of haze. Earlier studies put the annual air pollution death toll at one to two million, but this is the first to use newly released mainland air monitoring figures.
The Berkeley team blames emissions from the burning of coal, both for electricity and heating homes, for the high levels of small particulates. The lead author of the study - to be published in the journal PLOS One - said that 38 percent of the mainland population lives in an area with a long-term air quality average that the US Environmental Protection Agency deems "unhealthy".