Study: White People Responsible for Blacks’ and Latinos’ Higher Exposure to Pollution

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A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesclaims that white people contribute more to pollution than black and Latino people, but the latter suffer from it more than the white polluters.

“The air that Americans breathe isn’t equal,” USA Today says in its report on the study. 

“Blacks and Hispanics disproportionately breathe air that’s been polluted by non-Hispanic whites, according to a study,” USA Today says. “This new research quantifies for the first time the racial gap between who causes air pollution – and who breathes it.”

The study is available online, including a portion entitled “significance.”

Racial–ethnic disparities in pollution exposure and in consumption of goods and services in the United States are well documented. Some may find it intuitive that, on average, black and Hispanic minorities bear a disproportionate burden from the air pollution caused mainly by non-Hispanic whites, but this effect has not previously been directly established, let alone quantified. Our “pollution inequity” metric is generalizable to other pollution types and provides a simple and intuitive way of expressing a disparity between the pollution that people cause and the pollution to which they are exposed. Our results are timely, given public debate on issues relating to race, equity, and the regulation of pollution.

USA Today reports that 100,000 Americans die from pollution a year, more “than car crashes and murders combined,” although the exact causes of death and how it relates to pollution are not explained. – READ MORE

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