Along with goods for U.S. markets, China’s booming factories are exporting pollution that fouls the air over the Western U.S., a new study has found. “We’ve outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution, but some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us,” University of California, Irvine, earth scientist Steven Davis tells The Telegraph (U.K.).The study determined that Chinese emissions—blown toward the U.S. by powerful westerly winds— contribute as much as a quarter of the sulfate pollution on the West Coast, and inflict on Los Angeles at least one extra day a year of smog exceeding federal ozone limits.
Researchers used computer modeling to calculate the impact of emissions from 42 industry sectors. Black carbon, which has been linked to asthma, cancer, emphysema, and heart and lung diseases, is of particular concern since it doesn’t easily wash out of the atmosphere and can travel long distances. “This is a reminder to us that a significant percentage of China’s emissions of traditional pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions are connected to the products we buy and use every day in the U.S., said UCLA law professor Alex Wang.