Far Reaching Pollution: Environmental and health-focused market trends

February 13, 2014
2 min read

Researchers from China, Britain, and the US estimate that emissions from Chinese factories add up to an extra day of unhealthy air quality per year in the Hollywood Hills.

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, pollution originating in China is drifting across the Pacific Ocean and impacting the air quality in California. The research indicates that as much as a quarter of the sulfate pollution in the Western US comes from Chinese factories.

The blame does not lie with Chinese manufactures alone, say experts.

“We’ve outsourced our manufacturing and much of our pollution. But some of it is blowing back across the Pacific to haunt us…This paper shows that there may be plenty of blame to go around.”

– Study co-author and earth-systems scientist at University of California at Irvine, Steve Davis, in a statement

The global impact

Around the world, air pollution is becoming an issue which is gaining more attention. In China specially, we are seeing how the increase in manufacturing is negatively impacting not only the health of its citizens, but also the country’s ability to raise crops.

Consumers in China are certainly focused on the impact of pollution: According to Mintel’s Regional Lifestyles China December 2013 report, 41% of respondents said they are worried about pollution and 42% said they’re worried about their and their families’ health. We’re also seeing how more US consumers believe that addressing climate change should be a priority.

Now, research is showing that this side effect of industrial production is traveling to impact more areas of the world than those that host the polluting factories.

Because this impact is now being felt on a more global scale, businesses would do well to expand upon the messages of eco responsibility and look for ways to educate consumers about the wider impact of cheaper, Chinese-made goods. If brands can tie this environmental and health-focused message to patriotic tendencies to buy American, perhaps more consumers will understand the true impact of outsourcing manufacturing. Those companies that can develop cleaner alternatives can position themselves as a healthier, more eco-responsible choice, and stand to benefit.

Carli Gernot
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