Saturday, August 22, 2009

North American pollution killing Europeans

So says a recent UCI study in the Orange County Register:
For the most part, cutting ozone output had the biggest effect on death rates inside each of the regions studied — North America, East Asia, South Asia, and Europe. Overall, more than 30,000 lives a year could be saved worldwide if each of the four regions cut their ozone output by 20 percent, the study found.

The one exception was North America. As much as 76 percent of the deaths avoided by cutting ozone production would occur outside North America. Europe could benefit the most because of higher population levels and higher death rates, and because more smog flows to Europe from the North American continent than in the opposite direction.

For example, death rates from cardiopulmonary disease alone — only a portion of overall pollution-related deaths — would drop by an estimated 900 per year in North America, but by 1,100 in Europe.
It might make you wonder if cutting pollution in East Asia would have the same effect. As the article itself notes (and anyone living in California, Oregon, or Washington would know if they paid attention) pollution from China — particularly the "yellow dust" which plagues Korea and Japan every spring — already reaches the West Coast of the US. 

Though South Korea has made major headway in reducing pollution (LP-gas taxis, CNG buses, virtual elimination of coal-burning heating systems replaced by a natural gas network, etc.), it produces significant amounts, as one would expect in a heavily industrial country of fifty million. Ditto with Japan. These may be a drop in the bucket compared to the Factory to the World™ (China), but every little fix helps. 

Here in Hawaii we do pollute, but it all blows out to sea, where there's nobody else for thousands of miles in any direction. Hence, the clean air we have here.

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