US black and Hispanic minorities bear disproportionate burden from air pollution

air pollution
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Black and Hispanic Americans bear a disproportionate burden from air pollution caused mainly by non-Hispanic white Americans, according to a study set to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

The research, led by researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Washington, quantifies for the first time the between who causes and who breathes it.

Poor air quality is the largest environmental health risk in the United States. Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is especially harmful and is responsible for more than 100,000 deaths each year from heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and other diseases.

But not everyone is equally exposed to poor air quality, nor are all people equally responsible for causing it.

Researchers found that PM2.5 pollution is disproportionately caused by the consumption of goods and services by the non-Hispanic white majority, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities.

In the report, researchers linked air pollution exposure to the consumption activities that cause it in order to explore "pollution inequity"—the difference between the environmental health damage caused by a racial-ethnic group and the damage that group experiences.

"Our work is at the intersection of many important and timely topics such as race, inequality, affluence, environmental justice and environmental regulation," said Jason Hill, University of Minnesota bioproducts and biosystems engineering professor.

Researchers found that:

  • On average, non-Hispanic whites experience a "pollution advantage," meaning they experience approximately 17 percent less than is caused by their consumption.
  • Black and Hispanic populations, however, bear a "pollution burden." On average, blacks are exposed to about 56 percent more PM2.5 pollution than is caused by their consumption. For Hispanics, it is slightly higher—63 percent.

The pollution inequity metric is driven by disparities in the amount of goods and services that groups consume, and in exposure to the resulting pollution. These disparities are influenced by longstanding societal trends, such as income inequality and political representation.

Because white Americans consume greater amounts of pollution-intensive goods and services, they are responsible for the creation of more PM2.5 pollution than other racial groups. Further, American blacks and Hispanics tend to live in locations with higher PM2.5 concentrations than white Americans, increasing their average daily exposure to the pollution.

In the U.S., racial patterns in where people live often reflects conditions from decades earlier, such as racial segregation.

"Similar to previous studies, we show that racial-ethnic minorities are exposed to more pollution on average than non-Hispanic whites. What is new is that we find that those differences do not occur because minorities on average cause more pollution than whites—in fact, the opposite is true," said lead author Christopher Tessum, civil and environmental engineering research scientist at the University of Washington and a recent University of Minnesota graduate.

The United States has made strides to reduce air pollution across the country and for all ethnic groups. Average PM2.5 exposure declined approximately 50 percent between 2003 and 2015, but pollution inequity has remained high over that same period. This study is the first to quantify pollution inequity and to track it over time.

Researchers say their pollution inequity metric can be applied to other types of environmental burdens, providing a simple and intuitive way for policymakers and the public to see the disparity between the pollution that population groups cause and the pollution to which they are exposed.

"The approach we establish in this study could be extended to other pollutants, locations and groupings of people," said Julian Marshall, civil and environmental engineering professor at the University of Washington. "When it comes to determining who causes air pollution—and who breathes that pollution—this research is just the beginning."


Explore further

Air pollution exposure inequality persists in Massachusetts

More information: Christopher W. Tessum el al., "Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure," PNAS (2019). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1818859116
Citation: US black and Hispanic minorities bear disproportionate burden from air pollution (2019, March 11) retrieved 23 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-black-hispanic-minorities-disproportionate-burden.html
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Mar 11, 2019
And yet, ALL races and ethnicities benefit from the electric grid to heat their homes and cook their food, as well as the purchase of the same goods and services as White Americans.
The fact that humans who share the same 'race/ethnicity' PREFER to live amongst their own race/ethnicity because they have something in common or they feel safer or they share the same culture and values is lost on these "researchers". Individual Whites or families who have moved into an all-Black neighborhood have most often met with hostility and even threats to their person and property.
These "researchers' seem to be advocating the elimination of the White race in the United States - or to provoke a Race War.
I wonder how many of these same White "researchers" are actually living in exclusively Black neighborhoods/areas. THAT is the crux of the biscuit.

Mar 11, 2019
'American blacks and Hispanics tend to live in locations with higher PM2.5 concentrations than white Americans, increasing their average daily exposure to the pollution.'

Nobody 'prefers' to live in areas of high PM2.5, that is usually the areas where they can afford.

Mar 12, 2019
'American blacks and Hispanics tend to live in locations with higher PM2.5 concentrations than white Americans, increasing their average daily exposure to the pollution.'

Nobody 'prefers' to live in areas of high PM2.5, that is usually the areas where they can afford.


You have misinterpreted what I had said. I did NOT say that anyone would prefer to live in areas of high PM2.5. Those who are living off of welfare checks are certainly not going to live in Beverly Hills, California with all the Liberal/Socialist swells. And not all White Americans live under better conditions either. It's a matter of economics. White skin means nothing and never has. It is a falsehood to think that ALL White folks are so privileged that they can live anywhere they want.
I had said that "The fact that humans who share the same 'race/ethnicity' PREFER to live amongst their own race/ethnicity because they have something in common or they feel safer or they share the same culture and values

Mar 12, 2019
What is an American White and American Black?

Are not
American Whites accused of living amongst their own kind
as
American Blacks are accused of living amongst their own kind

Since when
was
it to be an American
was
To be, an American Coloured?

Mar 12, 2019
I am gonna go buy me a TV and a new tile floor, down with the dark people!

Mar 12, 2019
The Democrat Party in the US was the Party of Slavery who fought 'tooth and nail' so that the South could stay segregated. That is historical fact. The southern Democrats set their dogs upon the Blacks who were marching and demonstrating for their freedom in the South. They were beaten with batons and electric cattle prods to prevent them from going to schools with White children; sitting in the front of the bus with Whites; and sitting at lunch counters frequented by Whites.
And now, the descendants of those Whites in the Democratic Party pretend concern and caring about the downtrodden Blacks and other minorities, but they still maintain their hatred of minorities and hide it well.
It is funny how the new Democrat Party congresswomen aren't afraid to show how antisemitic they really are, as the Jews in the US Congress aren't sure how to go about chastising them. After all, they are ALL Democrats and should stick together. Oh what a dilemma they now have.
:)

Mar 12, 2019
In this America!

American Citizens, American subjects
But Not
American Blacks
American Jews
American Irish
American Chinese
as
whether Americans like it or not
the culture of America is English Speaking Anglo Saxon
so
whatever deep down are your fore fathers roots
you are American and you swear to the equivalent crown of this America
so
after all this time you should not be able to listen to an American
and
say an American Black
as
Everyone strives to be at one with these Americans
In this America!

Celtic Woman - O, America!
https://www.youtu...n2YflwNs

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