Researchers have concluded that our neighborhoods are the most riddled with pollutants, ultimately increasing our chances of developing respiratory ailments and heart disease.
The University of Minnesota (UM) study, National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality: Outdoor NO2 Air Pollution in the United States, used satellite measurements from the Environmental Protection Agency and took into account variables such as race, income, and education attainment.
It found that all three are contributing factors, and blacks and other minorities breathe in air with 38 percent more harmful nitrogen dioxide than whites because of our close proximity to power plants and the inhalation of vehicle exhaust systems.
Yet, the researchers are surprised at the results.
“We were quite shocked to find such a large disparity between whites and non-whites related to air pollution,” says study co-author Julian Marshall, a UM civil engineering associate professor, in a statement.
Well if a corporation spewing toxic fumes has a choice to establish itself in either a black neighborhood or a white neighborhood, I doubt it would break ground at the latter.
Researchers believe the study can be used to monitor and evaluate other areas of environmental disparity.
“Our study,” Marshall says, “provides a great baseline to track over time on important issues of environmental injustice and inequality in our country.”