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
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
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.
One third of China's greenhouse gases is now from export-based
industries, according to Worldwatch Institute, a U.S.-based
environmental research group.
China's neighbors, such as Japan and South Korea, have regularly
suffered noxious clouds from China in the last couple of decades as
environmental regulations have been sacrificed for economic and
However, the new report showed that many pollutants, including black
carbon, which contributes to climate change and is linked to cancer,
emphysema and heart and lung diseases, traveled huge distances on
global winds known as "westerlies".
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Trans-boundary pollution has for several years been an issue in
international climate change negotiations, where 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 report said its findings showed that trade issues must play a
role in global talks to cut pollution.
"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," it said.
Air quality is of increasing concern to China's stability-obsessed
leaders, anxious to douse potential unrest as a more affluent urban
population turns against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that
has poisoned much of the country's air, water and soil.
Authorities have invested in various projects to fight pollution,
but none so far has worked.
(Reporting by Stian Reklev; editing by
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