Haze, public health and mitigation measures in China: A review of the current evidence for further policy response

Jinghong Gao, Alistair Woodward, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Sari Kovats, Paul Wilkinson, Liping Li, Lei Xu, Jing Li, Jun Yang, Jing Li, Lina Cao, Xiaobo Liu, Haixia Wu, Qiyong Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Citations (Scopus)


With rapid economic development, China has been plagued by choking air pollution in recent years, and the frequent occurrence of haze episodes has caused widespread public concern. The purpose of this study is to describe the sources and formation of haze, summarize the mitigation measures in force, review the relationship between haze pollution and public health, and to discuss the challenges, potential research directions and policy options. Haze pollution has both natural and man-made causes, though it is anthropogenic sources that are the major contributors. Accumulation of air pollutants, secondary formation of aerosols, stagnant meteorological conditions, and trans-boundary transportation of pollutants are the principal causes driving the formation and evolution of haze. In China, haze includes gaseous pollutants and fine particles, of which PM2.5 is the dominant component. Short and long-term exposure to haze pollution are associated with a range of negative health outcomes, including respiratory diseases, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, mental health problems, lung cancer and premature death. China has paid increasing attention to the improvement of air quality, and has introduced action plans and policies to tackle pollution, but many interventions have only temporary effects. There may be fierce resistance from industry groups and some government agencies, and often it is challenging to enforce relevant control measures and laws. We discuss the potential policy options for prevention, the need for wider public dialogue and the implications for scientific research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-157
Number of pages10
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


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