Patterns of Mortality from Air Pollutant Emissions in China’s Coal-fired Power Plants

QIN Yu1 ZHANG Qiang2 LI Xin2 ZHAO Hong-yan2 TONG Dan2 ZHENG Yi-xuan2 GENG Guan-nan1 HE Ke-bin

(1.State Key Joint Laboratory of Environmental Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China 100084)
(2.Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Department for Earth System Science, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China 100084)
【Knowledge Link】confidence interval

【Abstract】Based on the high-resolution coal-fired power plant emissions database, GEOS-Chem Adjoint, a global-regional nested atmospheric chemistry model and its adjoint were applied to analyze PM2.5-related premature deaths caused by the power sector in six grid regions of China due to air pollutant emissions and subsequent pollution. The results show that power sector-related PM2.5 pollution caused 106 000 (95% CI: 68000–132000) premature deaths in 2010, accounting for 9.8% of China’s anthropogenic PM2.5-related premature deaths. The health loss intensity (defined as number of premature deaths caused by a unit of power generation) of small and old units is significantly higher than that of large and new units: units with a capacity below 100 MW reach 62 people·(TW·h)−1, 2.8 times that of units with a capacity above 600 MW. Similarly, the health loss intensity of units older than thirty years is 58 people·(TW·h)−1, 2.1 times that of new units. From the perspective of regional grids, the health impact index of Central China is relatively large, reaching 77 people·(TW·h)−1. Further analysis reveals that transregional power transmission led to a net increase of 680 premature deaths compared with the scenario without transmission in 2010. Our study implies that China should accelerate the pace of phasing out small and old units and optimize the power transmission distribution between grid regions to reduce the overall level of pollution and health losses.

【Keywords】 coal-fired power plants; air pollution; premature death; adjoint model; high resolution; regional grids;


【Funds】 National Key Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0201506) National Natural Science Foundation of China (41571130032, 91744310)

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(Translated by LIU T)


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This Article


CN: 11-1895/X

Vol 39, No. 12, Pages 5289-5295

December 2018


Article Outline



  • 1 Materials and methods
  • 2 Results and discussion
  • 3 Conclusions
  • References