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New Study on China, World Consumption, and US Air Pollution Impacts

The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) recently published a study entitled “China’s International Trade and Air Pollution in the United States.” The study reveals the effects of Chinese manufacturing for foreign consumption, both in the United States and in China, in terms of human health and the environment. China is the largest emitter of anthropogenic air pollutants worldwide, and a significant percentage of this pollution is linked to the manufacturing of goods for export. The study also shows that outsourcing manufacturing to China does not eliminate all of the environmental impacts of manufacturing for the United States. While air quality in the eastern parts of the United States has improved as manufacturing has been outsourced to China, air quality in the western United States has been affected at a net negative level. Strong westerly winds carry pollutants from China’s overall manufacturing activities to the western United States. This Chinese generated air pollution has increased the number of days of noncompliance with air quality standards in parts of the western United States.

The health impacts of the manufacturing pollution in China are also significant. It is projected that 500 million Chinese who live north of the Huai River will lose a collective 2.5 billion years of life expectancy due to outdoor air pollution.

The following statistics from the study show the percentage of the emissions generated in China that is associated with the production of goods for worldwide exports and for US exports.

Click here to read the full study.

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