News / USA

Study: Chinese Exports Linked to US Pollution

Pollution Outsourced to China Returns to USi
January 22, 2014 11:14 PM
The smog that frequently chokes China comes partially from factories that supply the rest of the world with shoes, toys, electronics and other goods -- according to a new study. But as VOA’s Steve Baragona reports, some of that pollution made in China also winds up being exported.
Roughly one quarter of the air pollution choking China comes from factories supplying the rest of the world with shoes, electronics, toys, and almost everything else, according to a new study.
But according to a team of U.S. and Chinese researchers, the smog made in China does not stay there. Findings of their work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicate the pollution is drifting across the Pacific Ocean and clouding air in the United States.
Focusing on 2006, the study finds that export industries produce one-third of China’s sulfur dioxide, one-fourth of its nitrogen oxides, one-fourth of its carbon monoxide, and one-sixth of its black carbon.
By first analyzing the amount of pollution generated by producing each good or service, the group then determined what proportion of those goods and services was exported.
Study co-author Steven Davis at the University of California, Irvine, says the research places images of the heavily polluted country in a different context.
“Maybe a quarter of what you are seeing when you see pictures of that Chinese pollution and everyone wearing masks has to do with goods they are making for other parts of the world,” he said.
Of the export-related pollution, 21 percent was due to trade with the United States, the researchers said, a significant portion of which boomeranged back to China.
Using atmospheric models, the researchers determined that as much as a quarter of the sulfur dioxide polluting the air over the western United States that year came from China.
California Air Resources Board officials say the Los Angeles area had 120 excessive-ozone days in 2006, of which, atmospheric models indicate, Chinese pollution contributed to two extra days.
“We do have pollution still in this country,” Davis said. “We are not completely blameless.”
But the pollution did not stop at the West Coast. Chinese emissions also added two non-compliant days in Chicago and the surrounding areas, which had fewer than 10 in 2006, and regions on the East Coast were affected as well.
The authors note that while Chinese air has grown dirtier, it has grown cleaner in the northern and eastern United States as manufacturing has leave these regions — often for China.
“What this paper is saying is that China is playing a role in terms of polluting U.S. air," said Texas A&M University atmospheric chemist Renyi Zhang, who was not involved in the research. "But the United States is actually playing a role as well because we are exporting the trading to the Chinese.”
That, says Davis, puts some of the onus for China’s polluted air on the United States and the other countries that rely on its export industries.
“Insofar as you believe consumers somewhere down the road should bear some responsibility for the pollution that goes on to produce the goods and services they are consuming, the rest of the world has some responsibility to help China clean up that problem,” he said.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Daikanyama, TKO
January 25, 2014 6:46 PM
OK. Let's stop exporting from China, and crush Chinese economy. That is the only one solution to make world better.

by: MikeBarnett from: USA
January 24, 2014 1:07 PM
Since 1972, the US has encouraged China to be more like the US, and it has succeeded in the areas of economic and industrial development that have also brought pollution. China recently passed the US in overall pollution, but each American produces four times as much pollution as each Chinese citizen. China exceeds US pollution because it has four and one half times as many people as the US.

In late 2011, at the Durban Climate Change Conference, China presented a $1.7 trillion, 22 point, 5 year ($340 billion per year) plan to reduce pollution. The first results should be noticed by mid-2014 and should continue through late 2016 when the next 5 year pollution reduction plan should begin. Three decades of fast economic growth will take decades to clean.

In the 1970's, Canada complained of US coal plants sending acid rain to Canada's eastern forests, but the US rejected the claim of its northern NATO ally. The US will have difficulty accusing China of any responsibility for pollution that is measured in the US owing to past US denials of US responsibility. The US should work with China and share anti-pollution technology that will aid both countries and the entire world. The earth is one planet with one atmosphere that all living things must breathe, so cooperation is necessary.

by: Vu from: Japan
January 23, 2014 9:03 PM
" the rest of the world has some responsibility to help China clean up that problem" ← why ???? China has been using all means to make their fotune and now they are asking for the help ? LoL
Remember that the products that the world is consuming is not produced in China only , there are a lot produced in VietNam, Indonesia, Thailand,etc as well , but why in those countries , the polution issue is not like that in China ??
In Response

by: MikeBarnett from: USA
January 24, 2014 4:08 PM
To: Vu from Japan

The reason for the "responsibility" is in two parts. In my earlier comment, I pointed out that America was the carrot, but Japan was the stick. In the 1930's and 1940's, Japan invaded China with artillery, machine guns, tanks, and aircraft. China suffered great losses and decided to build the industrial power needed to prevent technologically advanced countries from inflicting such losses on China again.

The second part is that much of China's eastern industrial base extends from Harbin to Shanghai, and earth's prevailing winds move air from west to east. If Japan chooses to ignore China's pollution, then Japan will transform its sky into a gas chamber to increase lung diseases for its citizens. Cooperation in control of China's pollution is better than fighting diseases in Japan.
In Response

by: Sino-phobia from: Rest of the World
January 24, 2014 1:26 AM
"why in those countries , the polution issue is not like that in China ??"-----The answer to this question is very simple. That is becasue Chinese are irresponsible for every thing; for instance, they export toxic food for other countries' children, meat including cardboard. Chinese have no sense of ethics and do not mind whether or not other people will be killed by chinese food.

by: Dave from: Wisconsin
January 23, 2014 1:58 PM
They had to do a study to figure that out?!?!

by: Frank from: O. County, USA
January 23, 2014 5:19 AM
Chinese are trouble makers who pollute air of the whole world, invade and bully the neighboring countries, export poisonous food, rob other countries of natural resources, and do other evil things. Chinese will be choked by PM 2.5 produced by themselves.

by: SR from: Guanzhou
January 23, 2014 4:34 AM
pot is calling the kettle black.

by: Beilei from: China
January 23, 2014 2:34 AM
I think what Davis said is too subjective, maybe he should do a experiment test one product and test how much polluted air left when across Parcific where the air is windy, clean and flow very well. Academic Journal should forbid this kind of no-evidence views.

by: Chris Brown
January 22, 2014 5:28 PM
Hope a solution is found. What are the main causes of the Chinese exports causing the pollution.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs