Racially segregated communities in the U.S. are subjected to double the overall air pollution, five times the lead pollution, and 10 times more toxic metals pollution than more integrated communities, a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications found. “Industries such as fossil fuel, coal and other industries create toxic footprints in Black communities that exacerbate long-term health issues for Black communities,” said Abre’ Conner, the NAACP’s director of environmental and climate justice.
While the disproportionate pollution burden imposed on people of color due to systemic environmental racism is well-established, the study closely examined disparities not just between people of color and white people, but those living in segregated communities. “Studies like this one highlight how legacies of racist federal, state and municipal policies have led to current patterns of residential segregation,” Rachel Morello-Frosch, a professor at U-C Berkeley who studies how race and class are linked to air pollution risks, told the Washington Post.
The study also found that not only are residents of segregated communities breathing more pollution, they’re breathing more deadly types of pollution, with higher concentrations of cancer-causing heavy metals. “We must continue to center Black communities and communities of color in any solutions and investments regarding environmental injustices,” Conner said. (Washington Post $, ABC)