One of the subjects I think should get a lot more attention is environmental justice. Poor and minority populations are far more likely to be located near highly polluting facilities like energy plants and the result, a new study found, is that people of color breathe much worse air, on average, than white people do.
A study released by the University of Minnesota this week indicated that people of color are exposed to air that is 38 percent more polluted than the air breathed by white people.
In an interview with The Minnesota Post, the study’s lead researcher, Julian Marshall, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, said that “the main [factors in how polluted the air breathed in was] are race and income, and they both matter. In our findings, however, race matters more than income.”
When Marshall compared the exposure gap between high-income Hispanics and low-income whites, for example, the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations were still higher among high-income Hispanics.
“We were quite surprised to find such a large disparity between whites and nonwhites related to air pollution,” Marshall told The Minnesota Post. “Especially the fact that this difference is throughout the U.S., even in cities and states in the Midwest.”
I don’t know why they would have been surprised. All they had to do was visit Detroit and the Marathon refinery, or the refineries near Gary, Indiana. The wealthy and the middle class can afford to live far from coal plants, refineries and factories, but poor people cannot. This result is almost inevitable given those realities.