Expert Report

Global Sources of Local Pollution: An Assessment of Long-Range Transport of Key Air Pollutants to and from the United States (2009)

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Recent advances in atmospheric monitoring and modeling have helped confirm that air pollution can be transported aloft across oceans and continents, affecting air quality and ecosystems far from the original pollution sources. It is currently quite difficult to quantify this transport or its impacts, but there is evidence that in some cases, the influence of long-range pollution transport can be 'significant' from a regulatory and public health perspective. To help policymakers and air quality managers better understand these issues, the National Research Council was asked to assess long-range atmospheric transport of four key types of pollutants: ozone, particulate matter, mercury, and persistent organic pollutants. The report, Global Sources of Local Pollution, assesses the current state of knowledge, and recommends the creation of an integrated pollution source attribution system. This system will help us to better quantify and predict future impacts of transported pollution, and design effective response strategies.