China's pollution reaches United States shores

A new study suggests that China's pollution carries across the ocean and eventually ends up in the United States.


Research suggests that air pollution caused by China's booming manufacturing industry contributes to emissions in the United States.

A paper published Monday by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, written by nine academics based in three nations, says that emissions caused by China's industry are contributing to air pollution in the United States. The paper says that "outsourcing production to China does not always relieve consumers in the United States -- or for that matter many countries in the Northern Hemisphere -- from the environmental impacts of air pollution."

The movement of manufacturing to Asia has concentrated emissions in the region, but this does not mean those in the U.S. are immune to the effects of the mass-production of goods across the sea. The Western U.S., in particular, is said to be impacted by the movement of air pollution across the ocean, while the East is not so contaminated.

The research says that global winds called westerlies carry pollution across the Pacific within days of generation, leading to "dangerous spikes in contaminants." Black carbon, in particular, is a concern as it is not affected by rain -- which allows it to exist across long distances. This chemical is associated with health problems including heart and lung disease.

"Los Angeles experiences at least one extra day a year of smog that exceeds federal ozone limits because of nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide emitted by Chinese factories making goods for export," a statement documenting the research said.

It is estimated that in 2006, sulfate concentrations in the Western U.S. increased by up to two percent because of Chinese manufacture, and a slight increase in ozone and carbon monoxide levels was also generated. It is worth keeping in mind, however, that the amount of air pollution in the U.S. caused by Chinese activities is extremely small in comparison to local manufacture.

The scientists also estimate that in 2006, China's exports was responsible for 7.4 percent of production-related sulfur dioxide, 5.7 of nitrogen oxides, 4.6 percent of carbon monoxides and 3.6 percent black carbon in Chinese airspace.

Via: The New York Times

Image credit: Flickr

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