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Opinion

A mortal threat to Asia's rise

Governments must tackle environmental degradation as it threatens region's future

| India
A man wears a mask as Tiananmen Square is shrouded in smog in Beijing in November.   © Reuters

Many Asian cities will ring in the New Year with high levels of air pollution, which contributes to potentially life-shortening health problems, from heart disease to severe asthma. Seasonal cold weather impedes dispersal of pollutants in the air, and so tends to increase levels of carbon monoxide and particulates, including tiny particles that can find their way into human lungs.

Asia, given the contamination levels and large populations, is the epicenter of the global air pollution problem. City dwellers are breathing polluted air contaminated with particulates multiple times greater in concentration than the World Health Organization's safe limit.

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