China's Smog-Filled Skies Are A Growing Threat To The U.S.

by
Maryam Tajalli
Could the choking smog that fills Chinese cities soon infect the U.S.?

China’s ever increasing air pollution is alarming environmentalists in the United States. A recent study shows that the contaminated air from China is steadily traveling to the United States across the Pacific Ocean.

Read More: China Smog Makes Capital "Barely Suitable" For Life: Report

Men operate small boats in Hebei Province on a heavy polluted day

Ozone, directly related to respiratory problems when inhaled, is highly concentrated in China. According to the study published in Nature Geoscience, China’s ozone concentration in the troposphere increased by a full 7 percent in merely five years from 2005 to 2010.

China Air Pollution, Chinese air pollution

“The dominant westerly winds blew this air pollution straight across to the United States,” Willem Verstraeten, lead researcher of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, explains. “In a manner of speaking, China is exporting its air pollution to the West Coast of America.”

Smoke rising from a chimney of a steel plant

The federal government in U.S. has been implementing policies that would bring down the production of nitrogen oxides, a compound that can later form ozone. Despite the 20 percent decrease of nitrogen oxide production in the Western United States, the region was unable to achieve a significant decrease in air ozone levels. The study found that 43 percent of the Western United States’ efforts have been nullified by the “import” of Chinese air pollution.

A woman holds a child on a heavy polluted morning

This is not the first time a study has shown Chinese air pollution as a problem in the United States. In 2014, another study showed that 12 to 14 percent of sulfur concentration in the West Coast can be attributed to pollution blown in from China.

Read More: Alarming Photos Of China’s Trashed Beaches Highlight Pollution Crisis

A smoggy morning in the city of Xi'an

Fortunately, the pollution level in China is gradually subsiding. A Greenpeace study shows that in 2015’s first quarter, the air pollution level in Beijing had fallen by 13 percent. China has been attempting to bring down the high levels of particulate in their air. If successful, the decrease in pollution would be a sigh of relief for both China and the United States.

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