Coal power in China's key coal consuming provinces led to 83,500 premature deaths in one year

Press release - 2013-07-11
Greenpeace released a study today on the health impacts of coal power plants in three of China’s key coal consuming provinces, Shandong, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia. The results show that PM2.5 pollution from the 637 power plants in these provinces caused 83,500 premature deaths in China during 2011. Pollution also caused nearly 130,000 cases of asthma and more than 140,000 cases of chronic bronchitis.

Because the pollution causing PM2.5 can travel distances of 1,000-2,000 kilometers, much of the pollution from these provinces can reach China’s capital region. Together these three provinces used 31% of the coal in China, totaling one billion tons of coal, equivalent to the amount consumed by the US. Moreover, the use of coal in these provinces has seen an increase of 33% from 2006 to 2011 leading to severe pollution in recent years.

Huang Wei, Climate and Energy campaigner of Greenpeace said, "Coal use is a major cause for PM2.5 pollution in the capital region around Beijing. Currently there are discussions for a reduction plan of PM2.5 for the six provinces in the capital region. Rapid growth in coal consumption in this region is undermining any benefits from improved pollution controls. Addressing the challenges of air pollution is impossible to tackle without bringing total coal consumption under control."

The research report, authored by Dr. Andrew Gray1 in the US, is the first academic research of its kind in the area, and uses the CALPUFF model combined with coal use data from 637 coal power plants, meteorological data and population data. Employing advanced health risk modeling methodology developed by the World Health Organization, the study assessed the public health impacts, including premature deaths and most prevalent chronic diseases caused by PM2.5 pollution from coal power plants.

The results of the research show that air pollution from coal power plants in the three regions caused 83,500 premature deaths nationally in 2011. The majority of the health impacts happened outside of the three provinces with 7,200 deaths in Shandong, 2,800 in Shanxi and 1,500 in Inner Mongolia. The major causes of death by PM2.5 pollution are from stroke (46,800), heart disease (19,000), and lung cancer (8,300). In addition, the results point to 108,000 cases of children’s asthma and 2,200 infant mortality cases.

"The rapid growth in coal consumption has been brought on by extensive industrial expansion, which in turn, has increased pressure on the environment and public health conditions. In order to turn around the deteriorating air conditions, China must fundamentally change its development model, starting with a significant reduction in coal consumption," said Huang Wei. "The coal consumption in Shandong, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia should be cut as soon as possible, with an implementation plan and timetable established, in order to achieve a reduction of PM2.5 pollution levels."

Download the report:

Media Contact:

Lin Zi, Media officer of Greenpeace   +86-10-65546931-122      +86-13321161573


1: Dr. Andrew Gray is one of the main contributors to the development of CALPUFF, which is widely used internationally to model health impacts of air pollution. He has over 30 years of experience in the research and modeling of the dispersion of air pollutants and wider health impacts. He has worked for the US EPA, as well as the state government of California. He is one of the most authoritative experts in this field globally. More information about Dr. Andrew, please visit: