Pollution from China travels in large quantities across the Pacific Ocean to the United States, a new study has found, making environmental and health problems unexpected side effects of U.S. demand for cheap China-manufactured goods.
On some days, acid rain-inducing sulfate from burning of fossil fuels in China can account for as much as a quarter of sulfate pollution in the western United States, a team of Chinese and American researchers said in the report published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a non-profit society of scholars.
Cities like Los Angeles received at least an extra day of smog a year from nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide from China’s export-dependent factories, it said.
"We’ve outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution, but some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us," co-author Steve Davis, a scientist at University of California Irvine, said.
Between 17 and 36 percent of various air pollutants in China in 2006 were related to the production of goods for export, according to the report, and a fifth of that specifically tied to U.S.-China trade.