With rapid economic development, China has been plagued by choking air pollution in recent years, and the frequent occurrence of haze episodes has caused widespread public concern. The purpose of this study is to describe the sources and formation of haze, summarize the mitigation measures in force, review the relationship between haze pollution and public health, and to discuss the challenges, potential research directions and policy options. Haze pollution has both natural and man-made causes, though it is anthropogenic sources that are the major contributors. Accumulation of air pollutants, secondary formation of aerosols, stagnant meteorological conditions, and trans-boundary transportation of pollutants are the principal causes driving the formation and evolution of haze. In China, haze includes gaseous pollutants and fine particles, of which PM2.5 is the dominant component. Short and long-term exposure to haze pollution are associated with a range of negative health outcomes, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, mental health problems, lung cancer and premature death. China has paid increasing attention to the improvement of air quality, and has introduced action plans and policies to tackle pollution, but many interventions have only temporary effects. There may be fierce resistance from industry groups and some government agencies, and often it is challenging to enforce relevant control measures and laws. We discuss the potential policy options for prevention, the need for wider public dialogue and the implications for scientific research.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program) (Grant No. 2012CB955504 ), and China Prosperity Strategic Programme Fund ( SPF ) 2015-16 (Project Code: 15LCI1 ). The funders played no role in the design, development, or interpretation of the present work. The views expressed in the article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the funding bodies. The authors are grateful to the Australia-China Centre for Air Quality Science and Management (ACC-AQSM) for helpful discussions in preparing the manuscript.
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- Air pollution
- Mitigation measure
- Public health