A well-meaning Chinese policy of providing residents in the chilly north of the country with free coal to heat their homes has shaved years off their lives, while also equipping researchers with a metric that can be used to measure similar environmental impacts elsewhere in the world....
The Huai River policy provided an unusually clear example of a “natural experiment,” said Avraham Ebenstein, a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Economics and Management at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a co-author of the study.
Ebenstein told Seeker that areas in developing countries that become more polluted because of the development of industry usually also commensurately wealthier as people get industrial jobs. This comes with factors — access to healthcare, better nutrition — that benefit people’s health even as pollution impairs it. Consequently, the link between life expectancy is often understated in developing countries.
Conversely, he added, developed countries build industry in poor areas, with the opposite effect: poorer and thus sicker people live in industrial, increasingly polluted areas, and the link becomes overstated.
“So the Huai River policy let us look at a place where the pollution is different, but it’s not because of industrialization, it’s not because of something that is also creating a wealth difference,” Ebenstein remarked.
also covered here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170911150953.htm