ICS: Air Pollution and Human Health in China (Non-IA Event) – January 25th (4:00-5:30 p.m.)

Qinghua Sun, who is a Professor of Environmental Health Sciences in the College of Public Health and also an Assistant Dean for Global Public Health, gave a very eye opening lecture about air pollution and its impacts on human health. He focused on the many global challenges and advancements happening in China specifically but also highlighted many countries around the globe that are also having increasing levels of air pollution and fine particle matters (pm 2.5 and pm10).

Sun has been doing research on the Air Pollution in China for some time now and he chose China because it is his birthplace and also due to the known fact that China is one of the leading countries in high amounts of air pollution in their air. Due to the high amounts of air pollution within China and many other countries, it has been able to impact people’s lungs drastically. Young children are starting to get exposed, causing an increase in lung dysfunction. The high exposure of pm10 and pm2.5 are starting to become deadly for our human bodies. When we inhale, the Carbon starts to grip onto our macrophages and it starts to build up as we continue to be exposed to these extreme levels of particulate matter.

Sun mentioned how pm2.5 can not be higher than 13-14 micrometer per cubic mile, and if it is in any city or country, then it is illegal. Unfortunately, there are many places with illegal levels of particulate matter. For example, Shanghai has a reported pm2.5 of about 16 and Delhi, India with more than 18. Although the United States is not nearly as bad, it is still at an unhealthy level in some areas. Places such as California, Texas, Ohio, New York, Nevada, Utah, etc have seen high levels of pm2.5 in the past and present. Back in 2005, Ohio was the leading state in the U.S. when it came to pm2.5 in the atmosphere, which really shocked me. Being that I grew up in Ohio, it really came as a shock to me that pm2.5 levels were really the worst in the country. It made more sense when Sun mentioned that we had many factories located throughout Ohio back then and it didn’t help that the states surrounding us were also high on the chart for pm2.5. Being surrounded by these states meant that the polluted air would just linger and the wind would push it into and around our state. Also since Ohio is far away from the ocean, there was no chance of the fresh ocean air to breeze through and clean the atmosphere up.

Sun’s talk allowed me to be more aware about what harms the environment and the air that we breathe. There are many things that need to change so that we can restore the Earth to a cleaner, more beautiful state and it will require time and effort by everyone on the Earth. Slowly reducing the pm2.5 and pm10 levels in the air and atmosphere by removing things that highly contribute to its existence will be a good first step. Not only will it help the Earth but it will benefit our health as well. I hope to see a reduction in pm2.5 within these next few decades and hopefully a reduction of it for good!