America sent its manufacturing to China, but the pollution is "coming back to haunt us," according to a new study. The jobs and economic growth remain on the other side of the Pacific. This seems like a pretty bad deal, overall.
Lots of waste and toxins from China's booming industrial economy wind up in the United States, mostly because the actual stuff is garbage: toys, pens, novelties, dildos, computers, and all the endless junk in dollar stores and Walmart aisles. Then there's the endless plastic and cardboard and styrofoam packaging.
The U.S. West Coast is now receiving additional imports from China, free of charge: Air pollution is moving across the ocean in such volume that it's adding to the unhealthy smog days in California each year.
"We've outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution, but some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us," UC Irvine researcher Steve Davis told the Washington Post.
The study that Davis worked on shows big increases in West Coast air pollution that can be traced right back to the Chinese factories making stuff for export to the United States. Up to 24% of California's daily levels of sulfate concentrations come from Chinese smokestacks.
Sulfate pollution from manufacturing has decreased on the East Coast since industry was outsourced to China, but it has risen on the West Coast thanks to airborne pollution traveling across the Pacific. But the Eastern United States still gets Chinese industrial pollution, because those pollutants contribute to unhealthy air days across the United States. (China currently has 15 of the world's 20 most polluted cities.)
With shipping and manufacturing garbage polluting American shorelines, U.S. landfills overflowing with the output of those distant factories, and the poison air over U.S. port cities like Los Angeles and Oakland, about the only thing Americans don't get from China's industrial economy are the jobs and the money.
[Photo of Tiananmen Square via Getty Images.]