Air pollution in China has been a great issue since it is affecting the entire world. In 2013, 28 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions came from China. In China, air pollution is killing about 1 million people each year and it is costing the Chinese economy 267 billion yuan (roughly $38 billion) in deaths and lost food production. This huge number was calculated by researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong by calculating the social costs attributed to the impact on public health and reduced crop yields. The same team of researchers managed to find that two pollutants responsible for 1.1 million premature deaths in the country and about 1,000 in Hong Kong. When studying the Chinese agriculture loss, around 20 million tons of rice, wheat, maize, and soybean were found to be lost due to ozone exposure. The two pollutants responsible are PM2.5; which is produced in combustion and are particles so small that it can lodge itself deep in the lungs and cause damage, and O3; which is ground-level ozone formed in a chemical reaction between nitrogen oxides, found in vehicles and power plants, and organic compounds, found in the same sources. O3 can make plants weaker by reducing photosynthesis.
During one of China’s political conferences, war was declared on the war pollution in its country. One of the most impressive ways China is fighting off air pollution is with a 100-meter tall air purification tower built in 2018. The tower is run by Cao Junji and his team at the Institute of Earth Environment at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The tower works through greenhouses covering the base of the tower. Polluted air is then sucked into these greenhouses and is heated up by solar energy. This makes the hot air to rise and pass through multiple cleaning filters inside of the tower. With monitoring stations setup around the area of the tower, early results have shown that the tower has reduced PM2.5 levels by 15 percent during heavy pollution. Since these are early results, the team still must wait for more conclusive data due to the ongoing experiment. This tower is still a huge improvement over another air purification tower that was built in China in 2017. This 7-meter tall tower was producing around 8 cubic meters of clean air per second. However, it was running on electricity that was generated by the coal power plants in China. According to Cao Junji, their new tower requires little power to run.
This tower is just one of the many ways that China is fighting against air pollution. Cao Junji has said that this experimental tower is just a scaled down version of a bigger tower they plan to build in other cities in China. This full-sized tower would reach heights of 1,640 feet and have a diameter of 656 feet. This tower would be around 100 feet shorter than the new World Trade Center and would be powerful enough to purify the air for a small city. China truly is stepping up its game against climate change.