If China continued with pollution cutbacks implemented during the 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing residents could see their lifetime lung cancer risk cut nearly in half, a study suggested on Tuesday.
That could translate to 10,000 fewer cases of lung cancer, said the study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives by researchers from Peking University in Beijing and Oregon State University in the western United States.
The study, among the first to examine how pollution control could impact the health of people in China, focused on pollutants called PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) that arise from coal-burning, wood stoves and cars. China emits the most PAHs of any country in the world, followed by India and the United States.
“PAH pollution was definitely reduced by the actions China took during the 2008 Olympics, such as restricting vehicle use, decreasing coal combustion and closing some pollution-emitting factories,” said Staci Simonich, an associate professor of chemistry and environmental toxicology at Oregon State University.
“That’s a positive step, and it shows that if such steps were continued it could lead to a significant reduction in cancer risk from these types of pollutants.”