45 million people in redlined communities continue to breathe dangerously polluted air more than half a century after the racist practice was outlawed, a new study reveals. The research, published in Environmental Science and Technology Letters, finds that communities redlined in the 1930s have worse air pollution today, including smog-causing nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and fine particulate pollution (also known as PM2.5) from cars, trucks, power plants, and other industrial sources. The fact that Black and Latino Americans — across income levels — live in areas with higher pollution today, however, suggests other more recent racist and discriminatory policies continue to cause environmental inequities.
The study confirms the lived experience of people of color around the country, Beverly Wright, head of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, told the Washington Post. “Any time we can get a study that takes the anecdotal stories of communities and we end up having scientific findings to support those anecdotal stories, that’s a good thing,” she said. “It supports community claims on the ground.” (Washington Post $, The Hill, New York Times $, The Guardian, EcoWatch)