According to a study, blacks and Hispanics disproportionately breathe air that’s been polluted by non-Hispanic whites.
Note: It is not April 1st, and this not a rehashed National Lampoon article from the 70s. This is an actual report. If you are white, stop being so successful. You’re killing us
“Pollution is disproportionately caused by whites, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities,” the study said.
Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air pollution exposure is the largest environmental health risk factor in the United States. The report links PM2.5 exposure to the human activities responsible for PM2.5 pollution. Researchers use these results to explore “pollution inequity”: the difference between the environmental health damage caused by a racial–ethnic group and the damage that group experiences.
The report shows that, in the United States, PM2.5 exposure is disproportionately caused by consumption of goods and services mainly by the non-Hispanic white majority, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities.
On average, non-Hispanic whites experience a “pollution advantage”: They experience ∼17% less air pollution exposure than is caused by their consumption. Blacks and Hispanics on average bear a “pollution burden” of 56% and 63% excess exposure, respectively, relative to the exposure caused by their consumption. The total disparity is caused as much by how much people consume as by how much pollution they breathe.
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 example, the scientists found that whites spend more money on pollution-intensive goods and services than do blacks and Hispanics, which means they generate more pollution than the other groups do.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Contributing: The Associated Press