GUANGZHOU: More than 41 percent of people in the Pearl River Delta have felt sick or uncomfortable this year because of the region's heavy pollution, a recent survey found.
Zhou Hongyu, 62, a Guangzhou housewife, said she usually goes to a park near her home every morning to exercise.
"My cough has been getting worse and worse every year, though I've been taking care of myself."
"But I really don't know if it's because of the worsening air quality or not," she told China Daily.
The survey, conducted by the Guangdong provincial social research and study center early this month, interviewed more than 2,000 residents in nine Pearl River Delta cities.
An official from the center said the province's environment and ecology have been sacrificed to achieve rapid economic growth.
The Pearl River, the second largest in flow capacity in China, has been seriously polluted by industrial discharges along the river.
More than one-fourth of the residents do not dare to drink local tap water.
Air pollution is also a serious concern for residents.
Cities in Guangdong experienced an average of more than 75 hazy days last year, a record high since 1949. Guangzhou experienced more than 110 hazy days last year.
"The growing number of hazy days has resulted in a big increase in lung cancer patients in Guangzhou over the past years," said Xie Qiang, associate professor from the Guangdong armed police force hospital.
While the number of residents who smoke did not witness a sharp increase, the city's lung cancer patients reached 38 of every 100,000 people, doubling the figure recorded a decade ago, or seven times the number at the end of the 1970s, Xie said.
Haze is usually caused by suspended particles in the air that reduce visibility. It is often a mixture of aerosols and photochemical smog.
Wu Dui, a researcher from the Guangzhou Institute of Tropical Oceanic Meteorology, said industrial and vehicle emissions are the main culprits causing haze.
Wang Wenhua, a local white-collar worker, said air and water pollution have become worse due to the rapid economic growth in Guangzhou in recent years.
"I seldom see a blue sky or white clouds, let alone rainbows," Wang told China Daily.
She hoped relevant departments could take effective and concrete steps to improve the city's environment.