Pollution Cuts Life Expectancy in Northern China

August 30, 2013

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. life expectancy [lahyf ik-SPEK-tuh n-see] (n. phrase) – the expected life span of a person
Example: Many Japanese centenarians have longer life expectancies.

2. suffocate [SUHF-uh-keyt] (v.) – to feel uncomfortable due to the lack of fresh air
Example: The pollution caused by the cars caused her to slightly suffocate.
3. trace back  [treys bak] (v. phrase) – to follow where something started or to find out where something began
Example: The pollution in the rivers was traced back to the chemicals released by the factories.

4. constraint [kuh n-STREYNT] (n.) – something that limits or restricts
Example: The city government could not solve the garbage problem due to financial constraints.

5. particulate [per-TIK-yuh-lit, -leyt, puh-TIK-, pahr-] (n.) – an extremely small particle or liquid droplet that is harmful to the air
Example: The pollution in the country worsened when harmful particulates increased to 85%.


Read the text below.

A new study from an international team of researchers has found that pollution has cut the life expectancy in Northern China by an average of five and a half years.

The pollution in the said area is so severe that residents are complaining on how the air has become suffocating. The food has also been contaminated and the water has become unsafe for drinking.

According to the research, the health effects of the higher pollution level are very significant since people’s life expectancy is decreasing. One of the terrible effects of pollution in the country is the increased number of people dying due to cardiorespiratory diseases.

The cause of the pollution in China can be traced back in the 1950's when the government started providing free heating to Northern China during winter. Coal boilers powered this free heating system, resulting in higher carbon emissions and higher level of pollution.

Unlike in Northern China, the government did not provide free heating in Southern China due to budget constraints. Thus, Southern China has lower level of pollution. According to the research, the North has a 55% higher level of harmful particulates than in the South. This difference in air quality can be visibly seen through the thick smog in Beijing.

Despite economic problems, China's leadership promises to find effective measures to control the pollution in the country.

In last year's annual meeting of the Communist Party National Congress, former Premier Wen Jiabao said that China needs to change the way people work and live in order to combat pollution.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How else do you think can the pollution in China affect the country’s people?
·         What can the Chinese government do to combat pollution? Please explain your answer.

Discussion B

·         How important is the environment to a person’s health? Please explain your answer.
·         Do you think the citizen’s health should be one of the top priorities of the government? Why or why not?


August 30, 2013