China Air Pollution Linked To Western United States Air Pollution, Study Says

A new study is saying that air pollution from China is making its way over to the United States west coast. According to CNN, a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that even though outsourcing manufacturing to China may have have helped lessen pollution in some areas of the country, they are now finding that areas, such as the west cost, are still being affected.

“Pollution from China is having an effect in the U.S., and we need to recognize how that is affecting both our background ozone levels and also particulates that are reaching the West Coast,” said study co-author Don Wuebbles, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Polluted air from China is blowing across the Pacific Ocean, and according to The Washington Post, it is now contributing to smog in the US. “We’ve outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution, but some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us,” said Steve Davis, a University of California at Irvine scientist and a co-author of the study.

“Given the complaints about how Chinese pollution is corrupting other countries’ air, this paper shows that there may be plenty of blame to go around.”

These pollutions that carry over from China to the west coast of the US can have an effect on not only the environment, but also the health of those living on the coast. Black carbon is one of the air pollutants that the report talks about. Black carbon has been linked to asthma as well as diseases such as “cancer, emphysema, and heart and lung disease,” according to CNN.


So how are these pollutions making their way from China to the United States and other countries? Reuters says that this can happen when pollutions travel on global winds known as “westerlies”. These strong winds blow wind and things such as air pollutions across large areas from west to east.

So is it any one person, or country’s fault? Blame doesn’t seem to fall on any one person. Trans-boundary pollution has been a popular topic in international climate change negotiations. According to Reuters, China has argued that developed nations should take responsibility for a share of China’s greenhouse gas emissions, “because they originate from production of goods demanded by the West.”

The new study stated that “International cooperation to reduce transboundary transport of air pollution must confront the question of who is responsible for emissions in one country during production of goods to support consumption in another”.

[Image via Shutterstock/Barnaby Chambers]