Wind is blowing China's air pollution 'straight across' to the US West Coast

Air Pollution From China Reaches US

A new study links the increase in ozone precursor emissions in Asia to increased levels of ozone over the US's West Coast.

In the study, published Monday, a team of six researchers from US and Dutch universities found that ozone concentrations over China increased by about 7% between 2005 and 2010 and that ozone traveling in the air from China has reached the western part of the US, challenging the reduction of ozone levels there.

China's meandering pollution likely offset the 2005-10 reduction in ozone that had been expected following US policies aimed at reducing emissions, by roughly 43%, the researchers found.

Over that period, the US government put in place emission-reducing measures and curbed the production of ozone-forming nitrogen oxides by 20% on the West Coast, according to Wageningen University. Yet that did not improve the quality of the air especially in terms of ozone reduction.

And the increased air pollution in Asia might be at least partly to blame.

Lead researcher Willem Verstraeten of Wageningen University in the Netherlands said in statement that the "dominant westerly winds blew this air pollution straight across to the United States."

He added: "As a manner of speaking, China is exporting its air pollution to the West Coast of America."

See the slideshow below for a look at China's pollution problems:

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Wind is blowing China's air pollution 'straight across' to the US West Coast

People, some wearing face mask against pollution, follow performers during a re-enactment of an ancient Qing Dynasty ceremony as the Lunar New Year of the Rooster is celebrated at the temple fair at Ditan Park (the Temple of Earth), in Beijing, China January 28, 2017.

(REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)

Apartment buildings rise into the smog filled skyline June 30, 2015 in Chengdu, China. First inhabited more than 4 thousand years ago, Chengdu now has more than 14 million people living in its metropolitan area. It is China's 5th most populous city and the provincial capital of Sichuan Province in southwest China. The city is is struggling to maintain its ancient cultural identity, while becoming a modern major tech and industrial center.

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

A delegate wearing the mask walks to the Great Hall of the People during severe pollution before the opening of the 2nd session of the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) on March 3, 2014 in Beijing, China. Air pollution has become a big concern during the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Over 2,000 members of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative, a political advisory body, are attending the annual session, during which they will discuss the development of China.

(Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

This picture taken on June 23, 2015 shows vehicles running in smog covered streets in Beijing. China's cities are often hit by heavy pollution, blamed on coal-burning by power stations and industry, as well as vehicle use. The issue has become a major source of popular discontent with the Communist Party, leading the government to vow to reduce the proportion of energy derived from fossil fuels.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

People wear face masks as they cross a street on a polluted day in Beijing, China January 4, 2017.

(REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

Buildings are seen in smog during a polluted day in Beijing, China, January 26, 2017.

(REUTERS/Stringer)

A woman sits on the back of a motorcycle in smog during a polluted day in Liaocheng, Shandong province, China, December 19, 2016.

(REUTERS/Stringer)

This picture taken on June 23, 2015 shows a cyclist wearing a mask in Beijing covered by heavy smog. China's cities are often hit by heavy pollution, blamed on coal-burning by power stations and industry, as well as vehicle use. The issue has become a major source of popular discontent with the Communist Party, leading the government to vow to reduce the proportion of energy derived from fossil fuels.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

A Chinese woman wearing a face mask walks in front of the Forbidden City on a hazy day in Beijing on June 23, 2015.

(FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)

People exercise among heavy smog in Hefei, Anhui province, China, January 3, 2017.

(REUTERS/Stringer)

This picture taken on March 29, 2014 shows residents breathing 'mountain air' from blue bags in a square in Zhengzhou in central China's Henan province, reportedly brought in from 190 kms away by a Henan-based travel company as part of a promotional event. Premature deaths and health problems from air pollution cost China as much as 300 billion USD a year, an official joint report by the World Bank and the Development Research Center of the State Council said on March 25, calling for a new urbanization model for the world's second-largest economy.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

People with mask walk in Nanluoguxiang on April 9, 2014 in Beijing, China. China is vowing to amend its procedures to curb pollution as smog in some areas of China have registered over 20 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO)

(Photo by Xiao Lu Chu/Getty Images)

This picture taken on March 29, 2014 shows residents breathing 'mountain air' from blue bags in a square in Zhengzhou in central China's Henan province, reportedly brought in from 190 kms away by a Henan-based travel company as part of a promotional event. Premature deaths and health problems from air pollution cost China as much as 300 billion USD a year, an official joint report by the World Bank and the Development Research Center of the State Council said on March 25, calling for a new urbanization model for the world's second-largest economy.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

This picture taken on March 26, 2014 shows a girl wearing a mask in Beijing as environmental authorities issued a 'yellow' smog alert for the capital. Chinese companies have offered up a fresh idea to help pollution-weary travelers while cashing in on public concerns over dirty air at the same time -- smog insurance.

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)

The people wear face mask walking on the road in smog in Beijing, China, on March 26, 2014. Chinese authorities suggest that old people and those who are sensitive should not get out from their house. Symbolic buildings of Beijing cannot seen due to the air pollution.

(Photo by Ali Ihsan Cam/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Citizens wearing breathe masks look at a smartphone in the heavy smog on January 9, 2017 in Zhengzhou, Henan Province of China. The Central Meteorological Observatory issued a yellow alert of smog in Zhengzhou on Sunday night. The visibility downs to below 50 meters at parts of Zhengzhou city on Monday morning.

(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

A traffic police works among heavy smog during a polluted day in Bozhou, Anhui province, China, February 5, 2017.

(REUTERS/Stringer)

Passengers board a train among heavy smog during a polluted day in Bozhou, Anhui province, China, February 5, 2017.

(REUTERS/Stringer)

Masks are pictured on sculptures in a park during a hazy day in Puyang, Henan province, China January 4, 2017. 

(REUTERS/Stringer)

A woman wears a mask as she rides near the Bund during a polluted day in Shanghai, China, January 2, 2017.

(REUTERS/Aly Song)

A cyclist rides along a street in heavy smog during a polluted day in Liaocheng, Shandong province, December 20, 2016. 

(REUTERS/Stringer)

People take videos of a flag-raising ceremony during smog at Tiananmen Square after a red alert was issued for heavy air pollution in Beijing, China, December 20, 2016.

(REUTERS/Jason Lee)

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The researchers determined what was happening by using satellite measurements of nitrogen oxide and ozone and combining it with a chemistry transport model to identify "the causes of increasing ozone levels and analyze intercontinental transport of ozone pollution for the first time ever," according to Verstraeten.

When levels of ozone are high in the lower atmosphere (this type of ozone is referred to as "bad ozone," or ground-level ozone) they have dangerous effects on human health and are a main component of smog.

High levels of ground-level ozone act as a greenhouse gas, contributing to pollution and climate change. ("Good ozone," on the other hand, is a natural component of the Earth's upper atmosphere and helps protect us from the sun's harmful UV rays.)

The researchers say this shows that the fight against increasing ozone levels and climate change must be global. "Local measures to improve air quality certainly help, but the real solution lies in a global strategy," Verstraeten said.

The study concluded that "air quality and regional climate change mitigation policies could eventually have limited impact if not considered in a global context, at least for free-tropospheric O3 and its precursors."

More from Business Insider:
The Earth's Ozone Hole Is Finally Starting To Recover
Rising levels of short-term gases are eroding the ozone
The Ozone Hole Above Antarctica Is As Big As North America

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