To think -- all that time we were faulting the scummy smog layer constantly smothering Los Angeles on our own bad habits. Turns out it's been China all along! That is, if L.A.'s Pacific positioning makes it anything like San Francisco. We knew we hated the East for more than freakish Tech War domination...
Environmental Science and Technology released some jaw-dropping truths about China's contribution to San Francisco's sky grime last month. And, since were only a few hundred miles down, we're assuming (praying) we can piggyback this blame game for all it's worth.
Chemical & Engineering News reports that Cal researcher Stephanie Eweing put smog samples from the Bay Area through some type of isotope filter (magic!!). One-half of samples came from an inland, urban site and the rest came from the coast, where "city pollution would be limited."
OK, here's what they did in science-speak, ya geek:
They filtered out the PM2.5 from the samples and measured its lead isotope abundances with multiple-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS).
Phew. Back to the good stuff. Let's see... sifting through this jargon... blah blah, 208Pb, blah blah, Asian dust storms... Aha! The six-month survey has found that 29 percent -- more than a fourth -- of San Francisco "particulate air pollution" comes from eastern Asia!
In the more graceful words of smart people:
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The coal and metal ores mined in China and eastern Asia have a significantly higher proportion of 208Pb, which forms from radioactive decay of thorium, than do coal and ores used in America .
China generates about 70% of its electricity with coal-fired power plants, creating large amounts of particulate pollution. Dust storms crossing China pick up these particles and carry them across the Pacific to the U.S.
And here we were, thinking Prop. 23 was such a big goddamn deal, when California should really be protesting mass production of the iPad.
Nahh. We take that back. iPads are cool. We'll just use this as another reason to complain about things other people do, meanwhile feeling 29 percent less guilty about our 40-minute commute to work every morning.
Check back for word from L.A. air specialists on how much o' this muck we Angelenos (as opposed to Bay heads) can blame on the Chinese. Keep your fingers crossed!