Pol­lu­tion that kills “not a lo­cal is­sue any­more”

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Seth Boren­stein

wash­ing­ton » A study that mea­sures the hu­man toll of air pol­lu­tion from global man­u­fac­tur­ing and trade shows how buy­ing goods made far away can lead to pre­ma­ture deaths both there and close to home.

More than 750,000 peo­ple die pre­ma­turely from dirty air every year that is gen­er­ated by mak­ing goods in one lo­ca­tion that will be sold else­where, about one- fifth of the 3.45 mil­lion pre­ma­ture deaths from air pol­lu­tion. The study says 12 per­cent of those deaths, about 411,000 peo­ple, are a re­sult of air pol­lu­tion that has blown across na­tional bor­ders.

“It’s not a lo­cal is­sue any­more,” said study co- au­thor Dabo Guan, an econ­o­mist at the Univer­sity of East Anglia in Eng­land. “It re­quires global co­op­er­a­tion.”

It has long been known that that the en­vi­ron­men­tal bur­den of man­u­fac­tur­ing of­ten falls heav­i­est on coun­tries where com­pa­nies set up shop to take ad­van­tage of low la­bor costs and rel­a­tively loose en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions.

But this is the first study to bring to­gether eco­nomic, man­u­fac­tur­ing, trade, at­mo­spheric and health data to cal­cu­late the num­ber and lo­ca­tion of pre­ma­ture deaths from air pol­lu­tion.

It found that peo­ple in Western Europe buy­ing goods made else­where were linked to 173,000 over­seas air pol­lu­tion deaths a year, while United States con­sump­tion was linked to just more than 100,000 deaths, ac­cord­ing to the study pub­lished in Wed­nes­day’s jour­nal Na­ture.

What that looks like in China: 238,000 deaths a year as­so­ci­ated with pro­duc­tion of goods that are bought or con­sumed else­where. That num­ber is 106,000 deaths in In­dia and 129,000 deaths in the rest of Asia.

“We have a role in the qual­ity of the air in those ar­eas,” study co- au­thor Steven Davis, an at­mo­spheric sci­en­tist at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine, said in an in­ter­view. “We’re tak­ing ad­van­tage of our po­si­tion as con­sumers, dis­tant con­sumers.”

Still, the study says three- quar­ters of the 1 mil­lion air pol­lu­tion deaths in China— and the nearly half a mil­lion deaths in In­dia — are from pro­duc­tion of goods that are con­sumed lo­cally.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.