Thursday, 14 March 2019

New study says the air that Americans breathe isn't equal.. air pollution from Whites affects Blacks, Hispanics

According to a new study, the air that Americans breathe isn't equal.

Blacks and Hispanics disproportionately breathe air that's been polluted by non-Hispanic whites.




This new research quantifies for the first time the racial gap between who causes air pollution – and who breathes it.

"Pollution is disproportionately caused by whites, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities," the study said.

Poor air quality remains the largest environmental health risk in the United States, the study warns. In fact, with 100,000 deaths per year, more Americans die from air pollution than car crashes and murders combined.

“Even though minorities are contributing less to the overall problem of air pollution, they are affected by it more,” said study co-author Jason Hill, an engineering professor at the University of Minnesota, who is white. “Is it fair (that) I create more pollution and somebody else is disproportionately affected by it?”

Hill said that while the air in the U.S. has gotten cleaner in the past decade, pollution inequity has remained stubbornly high.

"What is especially surprising is just how large pollution inequity is and has been for well over a decade," Hill said.

The type of pollution analyzed in the study is known as "PM 2.5" – tiny grains of "particulate matter" that are especially dangerous to human health because they can get deep into our lungs. Those particles, at 2.5 micrometers far smaller than the width of a human hair, are produced by car tailpipes, power plant smokestacks and burning materials.



The study found that black and Hispanic Americans bear a "pollution burden:" Blacks are exposed to about 56 percent more pollution than is caused by their consumption. For Hispanics, it is slightly higher – 63 percent.

However, non-Hispanic whites experience a "pollution advantage," meaning they breathe about 17 percent less air pollution than whites cause.

The formula scientists used in their study is driven by disparities in the amount of goods and services that groups consume and in the exposure to the resulting pollution.

“On average, whites tend to consume more than minorities. It’s because of wealth,” Hill said.

For this study, the category "non-Hispanic whites" also includes Asian-Americans and Native Americans. This is based on the source that the researchers used: government data on personal expenditures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The study was published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: US TODAY/AP


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