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The spatial impact of atmospheric environmental policy on public health based on the mediation effect of air pollution in China

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The topic of air pollution and its effect on public health has become a hot policy issue that has attracted worldwide attention, but this attention has seldom been extended to the causal relationship between atmospheric environmental policy (AEP), air pollution, and public health. This paper uses panel data from 30 provinces in China to construct spatial econometric models that analyze the impact of AEP on air pollution, the impact of air pollution on public health, and the mediation effect that air pollution may have between AEP and public health. The results demonstrate that there is a significant positive spatial spillover effect of soot and dust (SD) emission intensity and the overall air pollution level as measured by the Air Pollution Index (API). The AEP has significant inhibitory effects on the intensity of sulfur dioxide and SD emissions, as well as on overall air pollution. An increase in the overall air pollution level has a significant detrimental effect on public health as measured by average life expectancy. Air pollution as measured by API is a mediating factor in the relationship between AEP and public health. The study results could help to effectively control air pollution and promote public health by leading to improvements in regional pollution prevention and control mechanisms and strengthening of the central government’s policy formulation and local governments’ policy implementation process.
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Environmental Science and Pollution Research
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-022-21501-6
GIS APPLIED TOSOIL-AGRICULTURAL HEALTH FORENVIRONMENTAL
SUSTAINABILITY
The spatial impact ofatmospheric environmental policy onpublic
health based onthemediation effect ofair pollution inChina
ZhenhuaZhang1· GuoxingZhang1,2· LiliLi3
Received: 11 January 2022 / Accepted: 12 June 2022
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2022
Abstract
The topic of air pollution and its effect on public health has become a hot policy issue that has attracted worldwide attention,
but this attention has seldom been extended to the causal relationship between atmospheric environmental policy (AEP), air
pollution, and public health. This paper uses panel data from 30 provinces in China to construct spatial econometric models
that analyze the impact of AEP on air pollution, the impact of air pollution on public health, and the mediation effect that
air pollution may have between AEP and public health. The results demonstrate that there is a significant positive spatial
spillover effect of soot and dust (SD) emission intensity and the overall air pollution level as measured by the Air Pollution
Index (API). The AEP has significant inhibitory effects on the intensity of sulfur dioxide and SD emissions, as well as on
overall air pollution. An increase in the overall air pollution level has a significant detrimental effect on public health as
measured by average life expectancy. Air pollution as measured by API is a mediating factor in the relationship between
AEP and public health. The study results could help to effectively control air pollution and promote public health by leading
to improvements in regional pollution prevention and control mechanisms and strengthening of the central government’s
policy formulation and local governments’ policy implementation process.
Keywords Atmospheric environmental policy· Air pollution· Public health· Spatial econometric model· Mediation effect
Introduction
In 2020, the World Health Organization estimated that nearly
7 million people now die from air pollution every year. Since
the era of “Reform and Opening,” China has experienced
remarkable economic growth, rapid industrialization, and
urbanization. Meanwhile, China has become one of the
most heavily polluted countries, with high levels of sul-
fur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter (PM) (Liu etal.,
2017). According to the China Environmental Development
Report, air pollution is a cause of a variety of diseases, and
the incidence of air pollution–related diseases is rising. The
degradation of environmental quality and the public health
hazards resulting from air pollution are becoming crucial
constraints on the sustainable development of the Chinese
economy and society. It is urgent to investigate how the
government’s atmospheric environmental policy (AEP) can
effectively take control of air pollution and further improve
public health levels.
Existing empirical studies have analyzed the impact
of AEP on pollution control (Marconi, 2012), although
most of these emphasize policy implementation rather
than factors that affect the policy formulation process. In
addition, studies on environmental health effects mainly
focus on specific areas, such as environmental sciences
and medicine. Furthermore, relevant scholars have mostly
carried out studies based on individual data, instead of
Responsible Editor: Baojing Gu
* Guoxing Zhang
guoxingzh@lzu.edu.cn
Zhenhua Zhang
zhangzhenhua@lzu.edu.cn
Lili Li
spplili@nus.edu.sg
1 Institute ofGreen Finance, Lanzhou University,
Lanzhou730000, China
2 School ofManagement, Lanzhou University,
Lanzhou730000, China
3 Lee Kuan Yew School ofPublic Policy, National University
ofSingapore, Singapore259772, Singapore
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