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Black Friday is Causing Toxic Traffic Jams at US Ports and Warehouses

As millions of Americans rush to take advantage of Black Friday deals this weekend, the shopping spree will add to a pollution crisis unfolding at America’s ports . For months, broken supply chains have saddled port-side neighborhoods with more pollution than they normally endure. The holiday season will make things even worse. From a report: The disaster is unfolding in spectacular fashion in Southern California, home to the busiest port complex in the western hemisphere (which includes the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach). Here, cargo ships have piled up offshore as the pandemic wreaks havoc on global supply chains. The traffic jam extends to inland distribution hubs that attract trucks, trains, and planes shuttling goods from warehouses to consumers’ doorsteps.

That all has consequences for people’s health. “We need these things off these ships, I understand that,” says Afif El-Hasan, a pediatrician and national spokesperson for the American Lung Association. “But it’s going to hurt the people around the [areas] these goods come through.” There are a lot of factors that wrecked global supply chains, but in short, there was a mismatch in supply and demand. The pandemic shuttered factories. Meanwhile, people started shopping more for home improvement projects and new hobbies they picked up during pandemic-induced lockdowns. In the US, the container ships ferrying those goods from Asia started piling up at ports. During the first three quarters of this year, the movement of containers in and out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach was nearly 30 percent higher than during the same time period in 2019. By November, container ships were parking outside the Port of Los Angeles for an average of 17 days — more than twice as long as they were towards the start of the year. That has literally led to tons more air pollution in the region because the ships run their auxiliary engines while idling offshore.

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