A new study has found that China’s air pollution is bleeding into western United States and offsetting the reduction that our country has achieved in recent years.
The study was conducted by a team of international researchers from the Netherlands (the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) and the United States (the Jet Propulsion Laboratory from the California Institute of Technology and NASA), and warns that powerful winds are blowing ozone (smog, basically) from China across the Pacific ocean and carrying it over into western United States.
China is notorious for the poor health of its general public due to dangerously high levels of air pollution. Chinese people develop everything from cancer to respiratory system to high irritability.
It’s gotten so bad that they have to keep air filters inside their homes if they want to improve their health, and wear face masks when they go outside in order to keep themselves from getting sicker. Sometimes government officials even tell citizens not go outside the house for a given period of time.
One of the field experts working on the study attempted to joke by saying that “Exporting its air pollution to the West Coast of America”, but the danger is real.
The researchers found that ozone carried over from China offset the reduction in ground-level ozone in western United States by no less than 43 percent (43%) between the years of 2005 and 2010. That’s almost half the nation’s efforts rendered useless by “imported” ozone. And ozone found in the upper atmosphere managed to offset the other 57 percent (57%).
The findings made the researchers concluded that leaving each country to manage its own levels of air pollution is not a very efficient approach. They said that the study has revealed the need for a more global approach in solving the issue – “We conclude that global efforts may be required to address regional air quality and climate change”.
Ground-level ozone is believed to be more problematic than upper-level ozone. It is one of the main components of smog, the element link to the poor health of people living in highly polluted areas. It forms when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react with sunlight, and the medical community refers to it as a “strong irritant for the respiratory system”.
For their study, the researchers from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and the California Institute of Technology used computer modeling and satellite measurements provided by NASA to look at the levels of ozone found in the mid-troposphere (roughly 10.000 to 30.000 feet above ground level).
They found that the amount of ozone in the mid-troposphere stayed the same despite the actions taken locally to reduce it. Jessica Neu, study co-author and scientists from the Jet Propulsion Lab, gave a statement saying that upper-atmosphere winds are to be blamed for the “imported” ozone.
She went on to inform that researchers expect the he stratospheric contribution to keep going up and down once every two (2) years, for the next few decades.
She also added that “the contribution from China increased steadily throughout the study”, so the researchers can’t tell what’s going to happen in the future as this is a human factor, not a natural one.
The study was published earlier this week, on Monday (August 10, 2015), in the journal Nature Geoscience.
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