Straw Burning, PM2.5 and Death: Evidence from China

HKUST IEMS Thought Leadership Briefs No. 51

 

Agricultural straw burning significantly increases air pollution and cardiorespiratory mortality. A 10 µg/m3 increase in PM₂.₅ increases monthly mortality by 3.25%.

Farmers often burn agricultural straw residues from crops such as wheat, rice, maize, and cotton in situ after harvest. Straw burning is particularly prevalent in developing countries that rely heavily on agricultural production and is a major cause of seasonal air pollution. However, effective regulations on straw burning are rare and the lack of scientific evidence on how straw burning affects people’s health can make the government reluctant to design and enforce strict regulations.

 

Guojun He, Tong Liu, Maigeng Zhou from HKUST have looked into the above pressing issues. They found out that middle-aged and old people are particularly vulnerable to straw-burning pollution. Subsidizing straw recycling can bring about significant health benefits.

 

Find out more about their research and their policy recommendations in HKUST IEMS Thought Leadership Briefs No. 51.

Figure 1. Satellite Detected Straw Burning and PM₂.₅ in Summer During 2013-2015
Figure 1. Satellite Detected Straw Burning and PM₂.₅ in Summer During 2013-2015
Table 1. Effects of Straw Burning and Pollution on Log # of Death
Table 1. Effects of Straw Burning and Pollution on Log # of Death
Figure 2. Effects of Straw Recycling Subsidy on Straw Burning and PM₂.₅
Figure 2. Effects of Straw Recycling Subsidy on Straw Burning and PM₂.₅

About The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) (www.ust.hk) is a world-class research university that focuses on science, technology and business as well as humanities and social science.  HKUST offers an international campus, and a holistic and interdisciplinary pedagogy to nurture well-rounded graduates with global vision, a strong entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking.  HKUST attained the highest proportion of internationally excellent research work in the Research Assessment Exercise 2014 of Hong Kong’s University Grants Committee, and is ranked as the world’s best young university in Times Higher Education’s Young University Rankings 2019.  Its graduates were ranked 16th worldwide and top in Greater China in Global University Employability Survey 2018.

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