Western consumers have turned to imported assets to bypass expensive products created in Europe and the United States. Even though this decision may have saved them some cash, it actually has a massive indirect impact on the environment. The side-effects of this involvement are causing tens of thousands of victims of pollution especially in the countries that produce the cheap merchandise.
Imported Goods Lure Consumers with Cheap Price Tags
Publication Nature has just released a new analysis on the impact the international trade is leaving on the environment. The research paper found that there are almost 3.5 million fatal cases that are due to air pollution each year. A proportion of 22% of these premature deaths is linked to the high level of goods production that develops in one country to the benefit of other parts of the world.
This is the first time a scientific report describes the ramifications of the production of cheap goods finding a large market in the West. The authors of the study see the financial gain of western consumers as a loss for the health of developing countries.
“If the cost of imported products is lower because of less stringent air pollution controls in the regions where they are produced, then the consumer savings may come at the expense of lives lost elsewhere.”
The Study Underscores a New Responsibility of Western Consumers
To find their answers, a team of scientists at the University of California analyzed 3.4 million premature deaths that happened around the world in 2007. All these cases showed signs of being related to microscopic pollutant particles. These harmful elements are the result of practices that require burning coal. They are usually 2.5 millionths of a meter in diameter. Exposure to this kind of chemicals leads to deadly health issues such as lung cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
The findings of the study revealed a connection between 108,000 premature deaths in China in the year of 2007 and high market demands in the US and Western Europe. An environmental engineer at the University of North Carolina, Jason West, stated that this study reveals a new responsibility of western consumers. As there is a concerning outcome of their shopping decisions, it is in their power to moderate the consumption of cheap assets produced by developing countries.
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