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China's face mask industry under scrutiny as pollution worsens

Published on Mar 25, 2014 5:12 PM
 
Chinese citizens are feverishly snapping up face masks as worsening air pollution fuels a multi-million dollar industry where many products fail to provide even basic protection, drawing calls for better oversight and standards. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Chinese citizens are feverishly snapping up face masks as worsening air pollution fuels a multi-million dollar industry where many products fail to provide even basic protection, drawing calls for better oversight and standards.

The country's worsening air quality is at the top of the list of concerns of China's stability-obsessed leaders, anxious to douse potential unrest as a more affluent urban population turns against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has poisoned much of the country's air, water and soil.

Authorities have invested billions in various projects to fight pollution, but none so far has solved the problems caused by cars, coal-burning power plants and outdated factories that spew millions of tons of toxins into the air.

It is estimated that air pollution in particular causes an estimated 350,000 to 500,000 premature deaths in China every year, according to an article in the medical journal "The Lancet" co-authored by China's former health minister, Chen Zhu.

 
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