Paying for Cleaner Air; Study Finds Many in China Willing to Invest a Portion of Income for Cleaner Environment

Air Pollution

Outdoor air pollution in China is so severe that many people wear face masks to filter out airborne particles that pose a serious health threat, and visitors often develop a “Beijing cough,” a dryness and itchiness in the throat.

China is one of the world’s deadliest countries for outdoor air pollution, according to an analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO). Almost half of the Chinese population is exposed to PM2.5, a major pollutant in the air, at a level beyond the highest hazard threshold in the United States. The agency calculated that each year more than 1 million people died from dirty air in China as recently as 2012.

People in China are worried about their health and are looking for solutions. Research by Xi Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Yale School of Public Health, and colleagues examined the scope of the problem and found that many people are willing to pay a portion of their salary to improve air quality. The findings are published in the journal Ecological Economics.