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China's industrial pollution now creating "second-hand smog" in California

Second-hand smog

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(NaturalNews) Many people in the United States lament that everything comes from China and now according to a paper released last week, so does a portion of the Western United States air pollution. Heavy emissions from industrial China is blown across the Pacific Ocean and ends up in California and neighboring states. The research shows how air pollution in the United States is impacted by China's mass production of goods for export according to the new study.

The study was conducted by nine experts in their field spanning three nations and then published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper states "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."

Trans-border effects on air pollution

The main author, Jintai Lin, is a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the School of Physics at the Peking University. During an interview, Lin shared the vision of the research to examine the trans-border effects of emissions from export industries to look at how consumption contributes to global air pollution.

Powerful global winds called westerlies can carry pollutants from China across the Pacific within days, leading to "dangerous spikes in contaminants," especially during the spring, according to a news release from the University of California, Irvine, where one of the study's co-authors, Steven J. Davis, is an earth system scientist. "Dust, ozone and carbon can accumulate in valleys and basins in California and other Western states," the statement said. (New York Times, 1/21/14)

The scholars who gave emissions estimates for China's export industries, a significant part of the country's economy, looked at data from 42 sectors that are direct or indirect contributors to emissions. They included steel and cement production, power generation and transportation. Coal-burning factories were the biggest sources of pollutants and greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming.

"Second-hand smog" is making its way from Asia and other places according to these researchers and the record breaking drought in California has made the air quality problems even worse.

San Joaquin Valley smog central

Ian Faloona, one of the contributors to the report from the University of California, Davis estimates about 10 percent of ozone pollution, which is the main component in smog, in the San Joaquin Valley is traveling across the ocean mostly from Asia.

San Joaquin Valley residents are reported to have asthma at twice the rate of residents from other parts of the state according to the university report. Even after major work toward improving air quality, the San Joaquin Valley has missed a federally-mandated deadline for cleaning up the sooty particles. The stagnant, dry air is not helping with this situation.

In the summer of 2013, San Joaquin Valley exceeded the federal ozone ruling 99 days as compared to 89 days the year before. The visible and unpleasant brown haze in the late autumn and winter are made up of sooty particulates and has been increasing throughout the state this past winter. The South Coast Air Quality Management District documented 24 days in which the area failed to meet federal pollution rules compared to 16 in 2012-2013.

Faloona's key concern is that regulators look at the bigger picture such as the problems coming from other countries as part of the problem as they regulate and plan ways to improve air quality. "Gradually we're starting to come to this understanding that pollution is actually of a larger scale than we originally planned for and thought about," Faloona said.





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