Communities of color face “disproportionately and systematically” with deadly air pollution, regardless of location or income | Smart News
Air pollution from fine particles such as soot, dust or smoke causes an additional 85,000-200,000 deaths in the United States each year. New research, published this week in the journal Scientific progress, shows that communities of color disproportionately endure the deadly consequences for the health of the nation, regardless of geography and economic situation, report Hiroko Tabuchi and Nadja Popovich for the New York Times.
The new paper builds on an already massive body of evidence that demonstrates the pervasive inequality that people of color face across America when it comes to things as basic as access to air , clean soil and water.
For the study, the researchers focused on a type of air pollution called PM 2.5, which refers to particles with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less. It’s only 3.3% the width of a human hair, so they’re small enough to infiltrate the deepest crevices of our lungs and find their way into the bloodstream where they can cause and exacerbate a host of ailments.
Researchers modeled the exposure of different racial groups to 14 different sources of PM 2.5 pollution using Environmental Protection Agency air pollution records overlaid with 2014 census data. , reports Drew Costley of The Associated Press (AP). These categories included sources such as industry, passenger cars, diesel trucks, construction, and agriculture.
What the study found may not indicate anything new to communities of color, but serves to underscore the systemic nature of racial disparities seen in the United States since its founding.
“If you go to communities of color across the country and ask them, ‘What is the source of the environmental problems? they can direct you to everyone: the highway, chemical factories, refineries, pollution inherited from decades past, in homes, in the air, in water, in playgrounds ”, Robert D Bullard, an urban planner and environmental policy expert at Texas Southern University who was not involved in the study, said the Time. (Bullard is considered by many to be the father of environmental justice.) “Empirical research is now catching up with reality: America is isolated and so is pollution.”
Analysis of the article found that black, Hispanic and Asian Americans are exposed to above-average levels of PM 2.5 from industry, light vehicles, heavy-duty diesel trucks, and the construction, report Juliet Eilperin and Darryl Fears for the Washington post. Within these groups, researchers found that black Americans in particular were exposed to above-average levels of fine particle pollution from all 14 source categories.
Whites, on the other hand, were exposed to lower levels of PM 2.5 air pollution in almost all categories. The exceptions were slightly higher than the average levels of exposure to particulate matter from agriculture and coal-fired power plants, due to the location of each, according to the To post.
“The game is stacked against people of color, for almost every source of emission,” says Joshua Apte, co-author of the study, an environmental health researcher at the University of California at Berkeley. To post. “The recipe we have for improving air quality over the past 50 years, which has worked well for the whole country, is not a good recipe for solving environmental inequalities.”
Tabuchi and Popovich write in the Time that “these disparities have roots in historical practices, such as redlining, whereby the federal government has characterized certain neighborhoods as risky for real estate investments because their residents were black. These racist housing policies have prevented residents of the demarcated neighborhoods from accessing federally funded mortgages and credits, creating a legacy of divestment.
“Communities of color, especially black communities, have been concentrated in areas adjacent to industrial facilities and industrial estates, and this goes back decades and decades, to redlining,” says Justin Onwenu, an organizer. of the Detroit-based Sierra Club. Time. “And a lot of our current infrastructure, our highways, was built on – built through – black communities, so we breathe diesel emissions and other pollution just because we’re located right next to these highways.” .
Study co-author Jason Hill, a biosystems engineer at the University of Minnesota, told the AP that revealing “an overall systemic bias against people of color” in access to clean air, the study could help make the case more difficult. air quality standards across the country. Addressing the PA, he added: “This is something that needs to be done at the national level.”