Everywhere around the world, cops gripe about their working conditions. They say they have it really bad. But Chinese traffic officers may have it the worst.

While their American counterparts have to worry about traffic accidents and violent action by criminals that may cut their careers and even their lives short, Chinese traffic cops are almost guaranteed to suffer from lung disease and other debilitating conditions before they retire. The result is that the average life expectancy of a Chinese traffic officer is 43.

The culprit is the pollution generated by vehicles on China's extremely busy urban streets.

Almost every traffic officer in the city of Guangzhou suffers from nose and throat infection caused by working all day long in the dirty air. Standing all day also takes a toll as most officers have arthritic joints.

The result is that the average life expectancy of a Chinese traffic officer is 43.

Some Chinese cities are trying to clean up their act and their air, but the problem persists in cities like  Guangzhou—population 10 million—where it is estimated that there are 1.8 million cars on the streets and some 3,000 traffic officers work long hours keeping the chaos under control.

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