Over the past year, pictures of China's unprecedented air pollution have been seen around the world (for a sample see here and here), Chinese smog has been exported to Japan, and there is even a dedicated hourly twitter update looking at the quality, or lack thereof, of Beijing air. As such, it was only a matter of time before the tragic consequences of China's unprecedented and unplanned scramble to industrialize started manifesting themselves. This happened overnight when an eight-year-old girl has become China's youngest lung cancer patient, reports said, with doctors blaming pollution as the direct cause of her illness. The girl, whose name was not given, lives near a major road in the eastern province of Jiangsu, said Xinhuanet, the website of China's official news agency.
Since this is just what is officially reported, one can only imagine just how bad the reality is behind the Ministry of Truth firewall, but at least China is finally starting to come clean on its pollution problem, in what one can only hope is an attempt to remedy it. However, if that means even slower growth and a less furious scramble to industrialize through the construction of ghost cities, this will likely mean even slower economic growth, even less of an inflation tolerance by the premier and the PBOC, and even more animosity toward Bernanke's QE, which as we reported earlier is the main reason for today's reddish tint in the equity futures.
AFP reports that according to a doctor at Jiangsu Cancer Hospital in Nanjing, the 8-year old girl had been exposed to harmful particles and dust over a long period of time.
Lung cancer cases among children are extremely rare, with the average age for diagnosis at about 70, according to the American Cancer Society.
But the incidence of the disease has skyrocketed in China as the country's rapid development has brought with it deteriorating air quality, particularly in urban areas.
Lung cancer deaths in China have multiplied more than four times over the past 30 years, according to Beijing's health ministry. Cancer is now the leading cause of death in the smog-ridden capital.
The report of the eight-year-old girl's diagnosis comes after choking smog enveloped the northeastern city of Harbin two weeks ago, bringing flights and ground transport to a standstill and forcing schools to shut for several days, with visibility in some areas reduced to less than 50 metres.
At the height of the smog, the city's levels of PM2.5 -- the smallest, most dangerous type of airborne particle -- reached 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre, 40 times the World Health Organization's recommended standard.
High levels of PM2.5 have been linked to health problems including lung cancer and heart disease.
And now with China finally admitting it has a health hazard problem, one wonders how long until Japan does the same with the even greater environmental catastrophe that is Fukushima, or will Abe continue to hide the disastrous health consequences of the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl until his entire economic revitalization house of cards comes tumbling down and he is once again escorted out of the building in yet another epic case of diarrhea?