Growth in Beijing Automobile Population Putting Kids At Risk


According to a new survey of childhood lead poisoning in 15 Chinese cities, 7 percent of kids under the age of 6 living in Beijing have lead levels in their blood that exceed the national standard. That's obviously not good, but also not too surprising given the fact that in China virtually anything goes environmentally as long as it adds to the economic growth that keeps the Communist Party in power. Of course, that's unless there's a major international convention going on, and then cars miraculously disappear from the roads. As you might expect the three-year study blames rising emission levels from cars for the trend, and notes that children who live near heavily trafficked roads or in lower-level apartments are much more likely to have high blood lead levels than those who do not. Of course lead poisoning can cause developmental problems for children in critical areas such as intelligence, speaking, learning, and memorization so the damage is very real to those affected most. Now in related news, an estimated 23.3 percent of all suspended air particles in Beijing are particulate emissions from automobiles. And how they are going to deal with this issue while car ownership rates increase at approximately 14 percent a year should be quite interesting to watch. I'm wondering if they'll make a decree like they did with swimming caps in public pools throughout China to prevent hair from getting in the pools. Now everyone has to wear one to swim whether they like it or not, and they've made a real dent in the problem. But what will be the "swimming cap" for autos in a country where there are over a billion new capitalists literally walking around? I guess we'll have to wait to find out.

Tags: China

Best of TreeHugger