27 January 2014
New Study: Outsourcing of production to China leads to air pollution in the United States
China’s export industry is responsible for dirty emissions that are blowing across the Pacific Ocean and contributing to smog in the United States, a new scientific study says.
Scientists in the United States, China and the United Kingdom used data from 2006 to quantify how much of the air pollution reaching the US West Coast from China is from the production of goods for export to the United States and other countries. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that about one-fifth of the pollution China emits into the atmosphere comes from producing goods for export to the United States and other countries.
The LA Times writes that while the United States has reaped some of the benefits of outsourcing – cheaper cellphones, televisions and appliances and big declines in air pollution – rising emissions in China have paralysed cities there with severe smog. One of the authors of the study is quoted as saying that US demand for cheap imports from China has a way of blowing those environmental problems back at the US: “It’s sort of a boomerang effect”.