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Editorial |

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

Francesca Dominici, PhD; Murray A. Mittleman, MD, DrPH
JAMA. 2012;307(19):2100-2102. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.4601.
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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.13 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

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Figure. Daily Ambient PM2.5 Levels in 20 US Cities With Large Populations, June 2, 2008, to October 31, 2008
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The bar in the box represents the median; the outer edges of the box, the 25% and 75% (first and third quartiles); the whiskers, the most extreme data points no more than 1.5 times the interquartile range from the box; and the dots, outliers.The lines are placed at the average PM2.5 (particulate matter ≤2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter) level in Beijing before, during, and after the Olympics.4 Data for US city pollution levels are from the National Air Pollution Monitoring Network.7



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