China is exporting ozone pollution to the U.S. — which is only fair


It’s no secret that the U.S. imports a lot from China, and according to a new study in Nature Geoscience, now we can add ozone pollution — our old pal smog — to the list. “The dominant westerly winds blew this air pollution straight across to the United States,” said lead researcher Willem Verstraeten of Wageningen University in the Netherlands, in a statement.

Up in the stratosphere (between roughly 10 and 50 kilometers above the earth’s surface), ozone is a good thing: It protects us from the sun’s UV radiation. But in the troposphere, or lower atmosphere, it’s a central component of unhealthy smog, and we’d generally prefer not to inhale it. Down here, it also acts as a greenhouse gas — another climatic no-no.

Ozone concentrations in a given spot tend to vary with changes in ozone precursor emissions (like nitrous oxides) and changes in baseline ozone levels that enter an…

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