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May 16, 2012

China's Air Quality Dilemma: Reconciling Economic Growth With Environmental Protection

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Biostatistics (Dr Dominici) and Epidemiology (Dr Mittleman), Harvard School of Public Health, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School (Dr Mittleman), Boston, Massachusetts.

JAMA. 2012;307(19):2100-2102. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.4601

Before 2008, concentrations of air pollutants in the city of Beijing, China, site of the 2008 Olympic Games, far exceeded acceptable standards, which caused serious concerns in the international community about the health and performance of Olympic athletes. To ensure acceptable air quality during the Olympics (held from August 8-24) and the Paralympics (held from September 6-16), the Chinese government launched a series of aggressive measures to reduce pollutant emissions.1-3 To reduce industrial emissions, the operations of combustion facilities were restricted in smelters, cement plants, power plants, nonattainment boilers, and construction and petro-chemical industries. To reduce traffic emissions, certain vehicles and trucks were banned, 70% of government-owned vehicles were kept off the streets, and other vehicles could travel through the city only on alternating days.3