A woman in China protects herself against air pollution. Photo: iStock / Getty

China aims to create a comprehensive environmental monitoring system by 2030 in its efforts to boost citizens’ health and raise life expectancy, the government has said.

Pollution has been identified as one of the biggest threats to public health in the country, with smog in the northern region blamed for higher rates of cancer, respiratory disease and premature death. Widespread soil and water contamination have also caused health hazards.

Air pollution killed more than 1 million people in China in 2012 alone, the World Health Organization said in a study published in September.

The State Council said it would set up the “strictest environmental protection system” to oversee construction, noise and atmospheric pollution, soil and water quality and the rural environment.

The Nanjing skyline on a moderately polluted day. Reuters/Stringer

The new system would identify high-risk pollution zones and establish a unified disclosure platform for environmental information, the cabinet said in its “Healthy China 2030” plan, published late on Tuesday.