Chinese Air Pollution “Exported” to U.S. Cancels Progress Made in American Emissions

Friday, August 14, 2015
Air pollution in China (AP photo)

States along the West Coast of the United States have tried hard to reduce emissions of ozone-causing pollution, only to have their progress wiped out by “exported” pollution from China.


A new study by U.S. and Dutch researchers says pollutants from Chinese factories and cars have been blowing across the Pacific Ocean. The volume of ozone-causing chemicals is so great that it essentially erased the progress U.S. states made with their own reductions from automobiles and industrial production.


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


Published in Nature Geoscience, the study relied on satellite observations and computer models of airborne molecules traveling in the lower atmosphere.


This research revealed that China expanded its ozone levels by about 7% from 2005 to 2010, and that this pollution was enough to counter the 20% reductions in the U.S. during the same period.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

China ‘Exporting’ Ozone Pollution To U.S., Study Says (

Wind Is Blowing China’s Air Pollution ‘Straight Across’ to the U.S. West Coast (by Barbara Tasch, Business Insider)

Rapid Increases in Tropospheric Ozone Production and Export from China (Willem W. Verstraeten, Jessica L. Neu, Jason E. Williams, Kevin W. Bowman, John R. Worden and K. Folkert Boersma, Nature Geoscience)

Chinese Pollution “Blowing Back across the Pacific to Haunt” West Coast (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov California)


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