Study: While Whites Are Responsible For Most Air Pollution, Latinxs And Blacks Are The Most Negatively Impacted
At this point, it’s common knowledge that people of color are more likely to be exposed to pollution than non-Latinx white folk, but a new study is exposing a different aspect of environmental racism.
According to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) this month, Black and Latinx people disproportionately breathe the air that is largely polluted by non-Hispanic white people. In simpler terms, white folk are most responsible for adding harmful toxins in our air and people of color, in addition to our planet, are disproportionately paying the price.
The study, led by engineering professor Jason Hill at the University of Minnesota, looked beyond where communities of color live, which tend to be industrialized areas that have high volumes of pollution, and examined consumer demand for products that cause pollution and the quality of air the different racial groups inhale.
Researchers found that white people more often consume products that pollute the air, but Black and Latinx folk are more likely to breathe in the toxins. The study, using data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that Latinxs fared off the worse. In fact, according to the analysis, Latinxs inhale 63 percent more air pollution than they cause, while Blacks breathe in 56 percent more air contamination than they are responsible for. In contrast, white people draw in 17 percent less air pollution than they cause.
Anjum Hajat, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington who was not involved in the study, called the inequity unfair.
“If you’re contributing less to the problem, why do you have to suffer more from it,” he told NPR.
Christopher Tessum, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Washington who participated in the six-year study, told the news outlet that this gap in consumption wasn’t driven by a difference in the goods and services white people and people of color consume but rather by the amount each group utilizes these products and services.
With higher consumption of polluted air, people of color also face increased risk of environment-related health consequences, like cardiovascular problems, respiratory illness, diabetes and even birth defects.
The authors say more research is needed to fully understand the differences and the ways in which to tackle the disparities, from making economic activity and consumption less polluting to rethinking how we build our cities and transportation.
(h/t The Root)
Recommend this story by clicking the share button below!
Notice any corrections needed? Please email us at email@example.com