Tens of Thousands of Meat-Related Deaths in China

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at the University of Exeter (England) and the University of Hong Kong found that massive meat consumption leads to air pollution and, as a result, 75 thousand premature deaths each year in China alone. This is reported in an article published in the journal Nature Food.

Scientists found that meat production in China increased by 433 percent between 1980 and 2010, from 15 to 80 million tons. Only a small fraction of this increase was attributable to population, and the 60 million tonne increase was attributable to a change in diet. Ammonia emissions doubled over the same period, with a 63 percent increase driven by increased meat consumption.

Based on this data, the researchers estimated that five percent of deaths in China (out of 1.83 million in 2010) are attributed to particulate matter in the air from animal husbandry. The study found that if the Chinese diet were less meaty, it would reduce agricultural emissions and reduce the harmful effects of air pollution on the health of the entire population. In this case, ammonia emissions would be reduced by 2.1 teragrams and 74,805 deaths could be avoided.

The growth in meat production worldwide over the past 50 years has been most noticeable in East Asia, especially in China. At the same time, livestock farms are one of the main sources of environmental pollution, since manure and fertilizers used for forage plants emit large amounts of ammonia. The deterioration in air quality is in turn associated with respiratory diseases, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.

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