Air Pollution Is Racist, Too

This Is How Racist Your Air Is

Mother Jones reports that a new study reveals troubling information about how air pollution disproportionately impacts people of color.

“Earlier this month, environmental scientists at the University of Minnesota came out with a startling nationwide study showing that different demographic groups are exposed to drastically different amounts of air pollution each year. The study overlaid US Census data with exposure levels of a pollutant called nitrogen dioxide, or NO2, which is created by combustion in vehicles and power plants. The results: Each year, people of color are exposed to 46 percent more NO2 than white people.

NO2 is associated with increased heart disease, lung cancer, asthma, and pre-term births, and is one of six ‘criteria pollutants’ that the Environmental Protection Agency regulates in accordance with the Clean Air Act. Interestingly, the exposure gap between races was far larger than the gap between income brackets. If your household income is more than $70,000, you’re exposed to NO2 only three percent less than someone who lives in a household making under $20,000.”

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