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China’s international trade and air pollution in the United States

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

DOI

Authors

  • Jintai Lin
  • Da Pan
  • Steven J. Davis
  • Qiang Zhang
  • Kebin He
  • Can Wang
  • David G. Streets
  • Donald J. Wuebbles
  • Dabo Guan

Organisational units

Abstract

China is the world's largest emitter of anthropogenic air pollutants, and measurable amounts of Chinese pollution are transported via the atmosphere to other countries, including the United States. However, a large fraction of Chinese emissions is due to manufacture of goods for foreign consumption. Here, we analyze the impacts of trade-related Chinese air pollutant emissions on the global atmospheric environment, linking an economic-emission analysis and atmospheric chemical transport modeling. We find that in 2006, 36% of anthropogenic sulfur dioxide, 27% of nitrogen oxides, 22% of carbon monoxide, and 17% of black carbon emitted in China were associated with production of goods for export. For each of these pollutants, about 21% of export-related Chinese emissions were attributed to China-to-US export. Atmospheric modeling shows that transport of the export-related Chinese pollution contributed 3-10% of annual mean surface sulfate concentrations and 0.5-1.5% of ozone over the western United States in 2006. This Chinese pollution also resulted in one extra day or more of noncompliance with the US ozone standard in 2006 over the Los Angeles area and many regions in the eastern United States. On a daily basis, the export-related Chinese pollution contributed, at a maximum, 12-24% of sulfate concentrations over the western United States. As the United States outsourced manufacturing to China, sulfate pollution in 2006 increased in the western United States but decreased in the eastern United States, reflecting the competing effect between enhanced transport of Chinese pollution and reduced US emissions. Our findings are relevant to international efforts to reduce transboundary air pollution.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1736-1741
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
Volume111
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 4 Feb 2014
Peer-reviewedYes

Keywords

    Research areas

  • Emission control, Input-output analysis, International collaboration

Bibliographic note

Freely available online through the PNAS open access option.

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