Emissions from new coal-fired power stations planned in Guangdong could cause as many as 16,000 deaths in the next 40 years, research by an air-pollution specialist indicates.
The "shocking" findings have brought a call for the province to wind back plans for the 22 additional stations and return to a 2009 policy of no new coal-fired plants in the Pearl River Delta.
The estimates were made by Dr Andrew Gray, an American private air quality consultant commissioned by Greenpeace to study the health impact of the new plants' emissions of fine particles measuring less than 2.5 micrometres. The extra deaths would add to an already heavy health toll - put at 3,600 deaths and 4,000 cases of child asthma in 2011 alone - from the 96 coal-fired plants already in operation in the province and Hong Kong.
Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner Zhou Rong said: "The cumulative impact of these new plants on human health is simply shocking.
"The Pearl River Delta [PRD] region should strictly enforce the policy of no more new coal-fired power plants in the PRD published in 2009. Guangdong has ignored its earlier pledge to ban new coal-fired power plants in order to feed its hunger for energy."
Bear in mind that Guangdong's population in 2010 was estimated to be 104 million, with a GDP in US dollars of $815.53 billion. Both the population and the economy need support, but they also need something better than more coal-fired power plants.