Monday, April 23, 2018

Asia pollution is by far biggest contributor to smog in Western US, peer reviewed study. Tons of mercury, sulfates, ozone, and black carbon from Asia come to rest in California carried by Pacific winds


Image caption: "While much of the dust cloud remains over the Pacific Ocean, the leading edge has reached as far east as the American Midwest by April 13 (2001)," NASA, 5/17/2001. 

"China now emits more mercury than the United States, India, and Europe combined....“What’s different about China is the scale and speed of pollution and environmental degradation,” Turner says. It’s like nothing the world has ever seen.”" (p. 1)

3/1/2017 peer reviewed study: Asian air pollution is by far the biggest contributor to smog in the Western US.
3/18/2011, "Made in China: Our Toxic, Imported Air Pollution," Discover, by David Kirby, (April 2011 issue)

"Mercury, sulfates, ozone, black carbon, flu-laced desert dust. Even as America 
tightens emission standards, the 
fast-growing economies of Asia 
are filling the air with hazardous components that 
circumnavigate the globe." 

(p. 1): "Prevailing winds across the Pacific are pushing thousands of tons of other contaminants—including mercury, sulfates, ozone, black carbon, and desert dust—over the ocean each year. Some of this atmospheric junk settles into the cold waters of the North Pacific, but much of it eventually merges 
with the global air pollution pool that circumnavigates the planet. 

These contaminants are implicated in a long list of health problems, including neurodegenerative disease, cancer, emphysema, and perhaps even pandemics like avian flu. And when wind and weather conditions are right, they reach North America within days. Dust, ozone, and carbon can accumulate in valleys and basins, and mercury can be pulled to earth through atmospheric sinks that deposit it across large swaths of land.

China in particular stands out because of its sudden role as the world’s factory, its enormous population, and the mass migration of that population to urban centers; 350 million people, equivalent to the entire U.S. population, will be moving to its cities over the next 10 years. China now emits more mercury than the United States, India, and Europe combined....(p. 1)

“What’s different about China is the scale and speed of pollution and environmental degradation,” Turner [Jennifer, director of the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars] says. It’s like nothing the world has ever seen.”...

"Jaffe’s colleagues considered it improbable that a concentration of pollutants high enough to significantly impact American air quality could travel thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean." (p.2)...

(p. 7): "Perhaps the most counterintuitive traveling contaminant is ozone, commonly associated with ground-level pollution in cities. Volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides from Asian cars and industry mix in the atmosphere as they cross the Pacific Ocean and convert in sunlight into ozone, a main ingredient in smog, Jaffe explains. When air with high ozone concentrations touches down in North America, it can pose the classic dangers of urban smog: heart disease, lung disease, and death.

Jaffe recently coauthored a paper on Asian ozone coming to America. It found that ozone levels above western North America creep upward every spring. “When air was coming from Asia, the trend was strongest. That was the nail in the coffin,” Jaffe says. “The increase was estimated at 0.5 part per billion [ppb] per year. But that’s huge. In 10 years that’s another 5 ppb. Let’s say the epa orders a 5 ppb reduction and we achieve that, and yet, because of the growing global pool, in 10 years that gets wiped out. We’ll have to keep reducing our emissions just to stay even.”"... (p. 7)

(p. 8): "The United States has spent considerable effort over the past half-century trying to clean up its act. China is still much more focused on production....

(p. 9): "Asian mercury can reach western North America in as little as four days."



Mercury from China ends up in Oregon fish, rendering some unsafe to eat. ""Especially if China's share increases, Hope [Bruce Hope, senior environmental toxicologist at Oregon Dept. of Environmental Quality] says, Oregon can do little to reduce contamination of the river even by cracking down on emissions, eliminating mercury from products and segregating waste. "Because of foreign sources, the kinds of management changes that would be acceptable would probably not be enough to let us eat the fish." Oregon officials have warned since issuing a 2001 advisory that Willamette bass and pikeminnow bear unsafe mercury levels."

11/24/2006, "Mercury's long trip to Oregon fish," The Oregonian, Richard Read

""At least one-third of California's fine particulate pollution --known as aerosol --has floated across from Asia, says Steve Cliff, an atmospheric scientist at the University of California at Davis.

"In May this year, almost all the fine aerosol present at Lake Tahoe came from China," says Tom Cahill, a UC Davis emeritus professor of atmospheric sciences. "So the haze that you see in spring at Crater Lake or other remote areas is in fact Chinese in origin.""

11/24/2006, "China's mercury flushes into Oregon's rivers," The Oregonian via 

Image source: "Bruce Hope, senior environmental toxicologist of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality"

Alternate link for above Oregonian article: 

""The ozone on the West Coast in a few years will be controlled not by California and Oregon," Schnell (Russ, NOAA official) says. "It will be controlled by China." The incoming pollution bucks a U.S. trend toward cleaner skies and water."....

It's not just the Willamette that will be difficult to clean up because of mercury beyond local control. Scientists expected to find patterns of mercury pollution from nearby factories when they took sediment samples beneath lakes near Bellingham, Wash., that contain fish unsafe to eat. Instead, most of the industrial mercury came from global sources.   

"There's more mercury deposited in this country from outside our borders than from inside our borders," says Richard Scheffe, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency senior science adviser."...(subhead, Impact on cleanup) 


Added: 3/1/2017 peer reviewed study: Asian air pollution is by far the biggest contributor to smog in the Western US: "Asian anthropogenic emissions of ozone precursors tripled since 1990, contributing 65% to western US ozone increases in spring, outpacing ozone decreases attained via 50% US emission controls.”…Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics

5/2/2017, “Air pollution in Asia is wafting into the USA, increasing smog in West,” USA Today, Doyle Rice

“Air pollution from China, India and several other Asian countries has wafted across the Pacific Ocean over the past 25 years, increasing levels of smog in the western U.S., a study finds. 

Smog, also known as ground-level ozone, is harmful to human health, because it can exacerbate asthma attacks and cause difficulty breathing. It also harms sensitive trees and crops. It’s different than the “good” ozone up in the stratosphere, which protects life on Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. 

Scientists measured ozone levels recorded at springtime for the past 25 years in 16 national parks in the western U.S., including Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand CanyonThe parks’ locations farther away from cities, where smog is typically expected, made them ideal spots for the study. 

The team looked at levels in the spring when wind and weather patterns push Asian pollution across the Pacific Ocean, said Meiyun Lin, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who led the study. In the summer, when those weather patterns subside, ozone levels in the national parks remained well above normal.  

Asian air pollution was, by far, the biggest contributor to smog in the West, the researchers found. The team also looked at other factors, such as wildfires and methane from livestock. Asian air pollution contributed as much as 65% of the western U.S. ozone increase, while wildfire emissions supplied less than 10% and methane about 15%. 

Since 1992, Asia has tripled its emissions of smog-forming chemicals such as nitrogen oxides. Though China and India are the worst offenders, North and South Korea and Japan also contribute, said Lin, who is also a research scholar at Princeton University. 

The smog levels in the western U.S. have increased each year despite a 50% reduction in U.S. emissions of smog-forming pollutants. 

Twenty years ago [1997], scientists first speculated that rising Asian emissions would one day offset some of the United States’ domestic ozone reductions, said Owen Cooper, a senior research scientist at the University of Colorado and NOAA, who was not directly involved in the study. Now that prediction has come true, he said. 

Asian pollution only slightly contributes to smog in the eastern U.S., the study found. Levels there typically spike during intense summer heat waves. 

The study was published Wednesday in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.”

Added: “Summary: Asian anthropogenic emissions of ozone precursors tripled since 1990, contributing 65% to western US ozone increases in spring, outpacing ozone decreases attained via 50% US emission controls.”…

3/1/2017,US surface ozone trends and extremes from 1980 to 2014: quantifying the roles of rising Asian emissions, domestic controls, wildfires, and climate,Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 

Meiyun Lin1,2, Larry W. Horowitz2, Richard Payton3, Arlene M. Fiore4, and Gail Tonnesen3 1Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
2NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, NJ 08540, USA
3US Environmental Protection Agency, Region 8, Air Program, Denver, CO 80202, USA
4Lamont-Doherty Earth-Observatory and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, USA


Source for top image:

5/17/2001, "The Pacific Dust Express," "A dust cloud from China crossed the Pacific Ocean recently and rained Asian dust from Alaska to Florida," NASA


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