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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  October 22, 2013 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT

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>> this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris. we'll take a look at today's top stories. a report is criticizing the u.s. for using drones to kill its enemies, and that it violates international law and can be classified as war crimes. many of the victims of the attacks have been civilians. >> everyone wants to know why. that's the big question. the answer is we don't know right now. >> police in sparks, nevada, say they're actively trying to find out why a 12-year-old student open fired monday in a middle school. the boy killed a teacher, wounded two students and then killed himself. the jobs report is out
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today, the unemployment rate dropped to 7.2%. the report was delayed due to the government shutdown. secretary of state john kerry met with world leaders today about syria's war. certificatey said the political solution is the only way to end the conflict. we want to remind that you is providing special coverage of the plight of syrian refugees, including stories, analysis and video reports of the situation facing millions of syrians displaced by the ongoing civil war. you'll find it all at those are the headlines. "inside story" is next. >> smog, pollution, bad air quality. by any name you call t it's a major health risk and a growing global problem. you're watching inside story from washington.
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>> hello, i'm libby casey. the cause of outdoor air pollution is all around us. the manufacturing done by our industries, and the acts of cooking. in some areas it's clear or perhaps not clear. smog is so bad in places like harbin, china, and can be linked to a large. of cancer deaths. we'll lea look at some solutiont first this background. >> when the northeast city of
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harbin, small particle pollution soared beyond what has been deemed safe. in beijing city officials are preparing for emergency measures for when the smog season peaks, it will include limiting driving and shutting down factories. >> when the red signal warn something issued we'll con duct the vehicle permits. >> problems like these in china are not isolated cases. the who released a report on the dangers of air pollution around the world. the research on cancer now says that air pollution can cause cancer and is more dangerous than second-hand smoke.
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the small particlecals get into people's lungs and pose risk. the study concludes that in 2010 bad air quality was linked to more than 200,000 lung cancer deaths. the city also warned of an increased risk of bladder cancer. the primary sources of air pollution are transportation, power plants, industrial and agriculture emission and indoor heating and cooking. in the u.s. the american lung association ranks los angeles, california, as the most polluted city in the nation. we have more from l.a. >> los angeles tops the list for the country's dirtiest air 13 years running and seven out of the top ten cities on the list right are here in california. now it is no surprise that los angeles has earned this distinction. according to the u.s. census bureau. angelenos are the most
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car-dependent commuters in the country. trucks that go in and out of the ports o pollute the ozone. >> we have reports from the capitol. >> in 1992, the united nations called mexico city the most polluted city in the world. air quality was declared to be a public health risk 355 days of the year, and pollution was thought to cause 1,000 deaths and 35,000 hospitalizations annually. but starting in the 1980s improvement in air quality were achieved through an array of government programs. diesel buss were phased out and stricter emissions were mandated for cars and the metro station now has 200 kilometers of tracks and moves 5 million people a day. now all of this had a drastic affect on lowering pollution
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levels. the presence of lead in the air has dropped 25% while suspended particlecals have been cut by 70% in. >> taking cues from mexico, the chinese government tackles the smog situation head on. >> up north the life expectancy there has already been cut by 5.5 years because of air pollution. the central government in beijing has vowed to put in $16 million to help with the problem. the air pollution in beijing got so bad at one point that it was unadvisable for people to step out of their homes. so bad, in fact, that it was way beyond the levels of the measuring scales for air pollution. for the millions of people across china who are having to live and suffer with the consequences of it no amount or no government solution is actually being applied fast
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enough. >> india is also suffering the consequences of rapid industrialization. the back in harbin, northeastern china, the health risks are heightening until winter break and the coal fired heaters are shut off for the season. >> joining us now are andrew long, from hong kong. doug briggey, and from mexico city, director of environmental health for the national institute of public health of mexico. welcome all of you, and andrew, we'll start with you. you live in hong kong. there is so much focus on harbin and the residents there with the
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pollution. yes, i just came back from other cities that are deeply enshrouded in smog and many areas of china are affected by the same area pollution problem. the thing that china has now compressed over a century of industrialization and urba urbanization until a few decades, and now with all of the pollution. secondly, the rise of the middle class and everybody wants a car, and rising explosion of car ownership. there are more cars in china than in america. and thirdly china relies still on coal. coal accounts for 95% of energy
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demand, and all of this is highly pol polluting. and it has been combined with the weather conditions so you have a situation where the whole city is now being shutdown. it's a very serious challenge to the sustainability of china's economic bold. >> andrew, how do citizens react? we hear about schools being closed, and how does the government react? >> when you have cities shutting down everyone is affected, and the government is worried because nowadays all the party secretaries and their chances of promotion depend only on delivery of gdp growth and the environment. also there is lots of unrest in china, aware of the kind of pollution problems caused by factories violating the kind of laws and combined with a degree
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of local corruption. there was a huge challenge to the chinese leadership. >> and mr. leung we'll get to the solution to these con great problems, but i want a sense of what people are like? are people getting sick? are children wearing masks? are people being kept indoors? >> of course, the children and the evidence that as the air pollution is a cause of cancer. >> what is it like in mexico city? tell us what you see, what you smell, what you hear from people around you. >> mexico city has been one of the most polluted cities in the world. here in mexico city we have at the moment there are many that
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have higher pollution than mexico city. there is increased concern between the population, the organization, and there is a slow movement trying to move the norms, the regulations, but we still have a very high pollutantcy. >> when you say very polluted. i know there are things in your every day experience but give our audience a sense of what you feel like when you wake up in a very polluted city? >> the people can see in the atmosphere this very high concentration of dust, and many of the people get sick, children, asthmatic children, and especially the elders. >> doug, what is in the air that
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is harmful? break it down for us. >> well, the thing that we're talking about that we're more concerned about is particle pollution, tiny particles that are suspended in the air. the haze that you see in mexico city, beijing, parts of china, india, and including cities in the u.s. these particles are mostly derived from come bucs. if most places that would be motor vehicles and from power plants, coal burning was mentioned earlier. they're very small, you can breathe them in, you can get them in your lungs. it's associated not only with lung cancer and respiratory diseases, and in fine particulate pollution, the studies say that that risk it is exceeds the pollutions all
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combined. it's a major hazard that you can see in some cities, but that the public under appreciates the level of impact. >> first, a short break. stay with us. you're watching inside story. when we come back we'll look more at the correlation between cancer and air pollution.
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>> every night share undiscovered stories. >> welcome back to inside story. we're talking about the dangers of air pollution. with us is andrew leung. and from los angeles, doug brugge, and from mexico city from the national institute of public health in mexico. were talking about the public perception of air pollution and the feeling that it's not that big of a deal. why is there that perception, and why is there the danger? >> i think people have just not been educated about how important this issue is. the report on global burden of disease which came out based on 2010 data found that fine
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particulate air pollution globally was responsible for 3.2 million death as year. that is a very large toll. and part of that is for cancer. the new report from who recognizing that the fine particulate pollution is a carcinogen point points to deatm cancer, from cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke, and their heart attacks may be coming from air pollution exposure. it's so much in the mind is the association between air pollution and the lungs and respiratory illness. >> doug brugge where are the studies that show that direct correlation, and when the who report came out one of the lead authors say it's significant to make the correlations because there is such a lag time. it's hard in studies to show
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because something may take years maybe even decades t to connectn ailment. >> yes, that's correct. it can take a long time for those studies to be completed. but in pollution the studies started a long time ago, and have reached a point by the early 1990s that they were providing very clear indications of this hazard. and two of the studies in the united states, the harvard study and the american cancer study prompted the united states to put regulation on fine particular pollution in the 1990s. those are just two studies. there are many, many more that the level of research about fine particulate pollution is truly massive. every year more and more evidence accumulates which suggest it's more and more health problems and more and
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more certainty that we know how serious this problem is. >> the focus is on cancer. why is it important to classify air pollution as arres carcinog, and why is this new? >> this is how doctors say, this is a very long-term research, and i think that the people not getting information about that. in previous studies you cannot see clearly the affect of air pollution on cancer. we can see these effects on lung disease, cardiovascular diseases, and now lung cancer. i think in the next years we will have more clear evidence on that? >> andrew leung, are people in
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china taking this very seriously? >> very seriously, indeed. it's not just research but it's right before their faces. when go out and come back home, the face, when they watch their face they can see how black their face have become. also when they start to breathe, they feel it. so i think this is a very serious problem in china, and the government has taken it very seriously. >> mexico's national institute of health has been looking at air pollution for decades, what are the lessons learned, and how is the government changing its ways because of what they've learned? >> well, in the very beginning they were not a good reception of the research, but now this result has been included in the new revelation, and now we're trying to work with that, trying to move the revelations, right, to log the maximum permissible
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for the pollutants. right now we're reviewing all of these revelations to protect health. there is not enough from the industrial and some sectors from the government because they are trying to protect the industry, and the automobile industry. but from there, we are trying to push to have a very more secure revolution, trying to protect health, and especially the affect on other people. >> when we come back, solutions. where do we go from here? stay with us. >> every morning from 6 to 10am
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>> welcome back. we're focusing on air pollution and now solutions. still with us from hong kong, andrew leung, from boston, doug brugge, and in mexico city, dr dr. re ojas, mexico has made improvements. how much of that is from the people, and how much from the government? we've heard that people in mexico city not being able to drive on a certain day of the week. how is that working out? >> we have a good management plan for pollution in mexico city, but not in the other cities. we have to talk an, and i'll stt with the private sector, we have
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two problems, one is with gasoline and the other is with cars. there are some advances, but some limitations have to do with this kind of gasoline and also the revolution for the industry, also for the way that the automobiles are built. >> andrew leung, even if improvements are made in china, and there are steps to use green power how much of a dent can it make? it's such a problem on a massive scale. the pollution is extensive in china and the health problems in that country are very severe. >> well, in china the bulk driver is by the government. first of all, it's the energy input for gdp growth. it's mandated to be reduced by growing the economy rather than
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total depends on manufacturing, for example, and secondly reducing the impact of colby coy shutting down the inefficient and highly polluted plants. and then also trying to include the kind of ambitious from coal developing thin coal, as it report, and then enforcing a stringent emission standards on private cars. and it's even higher than those in america. of course, there is a huge problem, and a tremendous growth of car ownership. >> and andrew leung-- >> and also small cities. >> i want to get into the issue of cars. do the chinese feel like they're willing to sacrifice their cars and mobility, such a new phase of growth in the country for the
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betterment of society and the problem of air pollution? >> well, people are not asked to give up their cars. there are many who are eagle for own their first car. it's the emissions standards that have been strictly enforced now. and then these standards are higher than those in europe, for example, and higher than those in america. that's the thing. and of course they've got to pay a little bit more for it, but then everything is mandated by the government. >> doug brugge, solutions. as you hear what is being done around the world as well as the united states, where are model solutions, and where does growth need to happen? >> look, the united states and europe used to have similar problems to mexico and china. if you go back in time, to the 1940s and that time frame there were cities in the u.s. and u.k. and other places that were covered in smog.
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so thick that the street lines were on during the day, for example. we forget about that history. and we agree out. grew out of that. what i see from that lesson if countries like the united states and places like the european union could have gotten out of it, and developed the technology and figured out how to get there, then i think that mexico and china can also. and so, i don't think it's a technological problem. i think it can be done. i think mr. leung is totally correct there is an economic issue, and it costs money. that really is where the challenge lies in some of the economic growth tradeoffs, perhaps, and also the additional costs, for example, for the consumers who have emission standards. >> what is the economic toll on air pollution when we talk about people getting sick or cities in china having to shut down public
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schools, having to delay air flights and things like that. >> well, there are estimates that the pollution costs are taken into account, including health costs and then put back in the gdp growth even as much as 10%. and then the growth, it could be well negative. i think this is a clarion call for the chinese government. the government is very much aware of that, and i think that they are fully aware that the future of china lice in the low carbon economy. >> is iis it tempting to say itn china, it's not here, it's not our problem. >> it was more of a problem and we forget that it was our problem in the past and we still
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have problems today. even though the skies are clear over boston most of the time and do not have the thick haze that i witnessed in beijing when i was there earlier this summer, there is still a substantial health impact of the air pollution, the residual fine particulate matter in the united states. estimates range 100,000 to 200,000 death as year even in the u.s. that's a lot less than china and other places but there is still a problem here as well. so i'm not inclined to point fingers or to criticize other countries. i think the goal is wherever a country is at, it needs to be making head way and move in the right direction. this is as i said earlier a very substantial health problem. >> that's all we have time for, gentleman, thank you so much for joining us. that's it from the team in
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washington, d.c. and from me, libby casey.


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