Every time I travel to China to visit the manufacturing facility that makes our green wall modules I am shocked by the amount of air pollution. The reality of what our Asian neighbours are breathing every day is appalling.

A recent study [1] completed by Berkeley Earth, a group of physicists from the University of California Berkeley who conduct research on climate change-related issues, highlighted that air pollution kills 1.6 million people in China every year. That equates to one in six premature deaths, an unbelievable 4,000 people every day, and approximately 17% of all deaths.

Imagine smoking 1.5 cigarettes every hour. Now imagine everyone around you, including children, also smoking that number of cigarettes. That’s how Richard Muller, the scientific director of Berkeley Earth, explains the hazardous levels of air pollution in China.

This was the first study of its kind to analyse China’s recently disclosed air monitoring figures, which provide hourly air pollution data, including that relating to airborne particulates, from over 1500 sites across the country. Berkeley Earth combined these real air measurements with the World Health Organisation’s modelling framework to determine the links between airborne pollutants and deaths from heart and lung-related issues. Results of the study shows that 92% of the Chinese population experience at least 120 hours of “unhealthy” pollution levels (according to U.S Environmental Protection Agency). On top of this, over a third of the country’s population experience these “unhealthy” levels of pollution all the time.

The study identified coal as the number one principle contributor to China’s air pollution levels, which is still used as a major fuel source around the country. Despite recently adopting improved air quality standards, establishing monitoring stations and closing many of the old, rundown coal plants, China must significantly increase their efforts, and act more rapidly, if they are to prevent the situation from getting worse.

As a horticulturist I am passionate about the benefits plants can bring to cities to clean the air. This is why I established Junglefy, to bring more living infrastructure to our cities and in doing so provide people with cleaner, fresher air.

Considering that the worst of the identified pollutants in China are airborne particulate matter, one way to improve air quality, and consequently the health of the Chinese population, is with plants. Introducing more green spaces and living infrastructure is a step towards reducing China’s air pollution levels, as plants have the ability to filter pollutants from the air [2] and improve the air we breathe.

We are actively looking for opportunities to “Junglefy” China’s cities and believe living infrastructure will not only provide aesthetic benefits, but will also contribute to reducing their levels of air pollution to a healthy standard.

[1] http://berkeleyearth.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/China-Air-Quality-Paper-July-2015.pdf

[2] According to ongoing research between Junglefy and Fraser Torpy, University of Technology Sydney