The Causes of Air Pollution Inequity

Mar 25, 2019 | Michelle Shapiro

A recent study published in PNAS was the first to establish a pollution inequity metric that quantifies the disproportionate burden on black and Hispanic Americans from air pollution caused mainly by white Americans’ consumption of goods and services.

This is the significance of the study from the authors:

“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.”

Read the journal article.

Read a news story about the study.


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About Michelle Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro is a communication specialist for the Environmental Health & Disability team at NACCHO.

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