U.S. is the world’s largest exporter of harmful gases and chemicals

Ports reveal unprecedented surge in harmful emissions; officials blame COVID-19 logjam

In this Wednesday, April 10, 2020, photo, an effluent pipe from a factory at the Dalian Port in Liaoning province, China, during a recent visit to a factory there. Dalian Port has become the world’s largest COVID-19 hotspot for pollution over the past three weeks after officials admitted they failed to act effectively to reduce the risk of the disease spreading. (Beigul Li/The Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — The United States is the world’s largest exporter of harmful gases and chemicals, according to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The findings are startling, given that these chemicals are used in everything from medicines and cosmetics to plastics and chemicals used in food production and electronics. They’re also known to cause cancer and developmental defects, and to pollute the air we breathe.

The chemicals that make up the largest share of the total emissions in the U.S. are those needed to make, store or transfer electricity, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists’ report released Wednesday. Those include: carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, NO2, and other nitrogen oxides. The pollutants in the nation’s largest export industry also include ozone, carbon monoxide, lead, mercury, cadmium, and several metals like chromium and nickel.

“The U.S. is the world’s largest CO2 exporter — that’s what this report says, period,” said Amy App, a policy analyst for the environmental group.

“We know the U.S. is a major contributor of CO2 directly and indirectly, and also the largest exporter of hazardous chemicals and waste,” she added, referring to mercury, chromium and other metals, all of which are concentrated in the nation’s industrial sites.

Other chemicals that make up a significant portion of the nation’s exports include the polychlorinated and other chlorinated organic contaminants, and the volatile organic compounds, including phthalate and bisphenol.

These pollutants are used in many everyday products, including plastic cups, water coolers, soft drinks, food, and personal care products like detergents and cosmetics.

“We know there is some of this

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