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The high price of China

September 15, 2007

Re "Safer Chinese products will come at a cost," Sept. 9

There are serious and quantifiable costs from China's industrial revolution that go far beyond the sticker price of a Barbie doll. What economists blandly label "external costs" are not limited solely to the health consequences from exposure to contaminated consumer products. China is now the most polluted nation on Earth. Cheap prices at the local Wal-Mart come from lax environmental standards coupled with the export to China of obsolete technologies no longer lawful in the U.S. But pollution does not honor national boundaries. Mercury now found in the lakes (and fish) of our Midwest comes from China, the direct result of building one new coal power plant each week to feed its manufacturing base. And China actively contributes to the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran and elsewhere in exchange for oil and natural gas.

Al Meyerhoff

Studio City

The writer is a former director of the Natural Resources Defense Council Public Health Program.

I am shocked at the carelessness of retailers. These companies need to think about the health and safety issues of these Chinese-manufactured products instead of making a quick buck. The U.S. companies say that they are willing to pay the manufacturers more for better-quality items, but will that be enough? In a few years, will this issue repeat itself if China demands more money for manufacturing these items?

As a consumer, I want to know how my dollar is being spent and that these retailers care about me and my safety, not just what will happen with the cost of their products. People will pay extra for quality, but how do we know that we are getting it?

Jasmine Rausch

Los Angeles

If costs in China go high enough, some of our lost manufacturing jobs might return to a better-regulated environment in the United States.

Richard Varenchik

Santa Clarita

It appears that some Chinese companies have taken capitalism to the extreme: maximize profits, minimize penalties

Harold C. Kameya

Granada Hills

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