Smog levels in major West Coast cities such as Los Angeles are failing to improve despite efforts to reduce carbon emissions. A new report issued by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests that heavy industrialized cities in Asia could be exacerbating the situation in the West Coast.
As reported in early March by National Public Radio, air pollution in China and India could be drifting all the way across the vast Pacific Ocean and contaminating the West Coast. American researchers have been studying this phenomenon over the last few years, and their conclusions indicate that more than 60 percent of the Western ozone layer is the result of pollution in cities such as Shanghai and Mumbai.
In the 1990s, the most powerful economies in Asia decided to sharply increase their industrial output without paying too much attention to the high levels of nitrogen oxide being released into the atmosphere as emissions. Eventually, those air pollutants make their way to North America, where they can offset carbon reduction efforts by as much as 50 percent.
Thankfully, the People’s Republic of China has been trying to cut down on industrial emissions as officials realize that entire cities are essentially becoming sick from the excessively high levels of air pollution. In some regions of China, mining operations and metal factories release so many pollutants that city skylines can no longer be seen through the thick smoke. As a result of this widespread contamination, respiratory diseases have become public health concerns and farmers complain that their crops constantly die.
American scientists conducted a longitudinal study that looked at ozone levels from the 1980s until a couple of years ago. The United States regions where the data sets came from include Southern California, Denver and cities across the Eastern Seaboard. Big Data algorithms were applied to drive the study findings, which were published in the journal of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics in 2017.
The noxious gases emanating from heavily industrialized regions of Asia can be controlled with efficient policy that does not have to undermine gross domestic product. Asian and American scientists hope that solutions can be developed in the near future.