We’ve known for a long time the impacts of air pollution are generally more severe in lower-income countries. However, a recent study has highlighted how those from poor and minority communities suffer more from the impacts of air pollution.
This study highlights a new issue because while we’ve known lower-income countries are impacted more by air pollution, this study highlights how lower-income groups suffer more from air pollution even on a smaller scale.
Even within the same city - in this study, New York and Newark - low-income areas with 1/5th or more of households below the poverty level had air pollution 26% worse than in wealthier areas of the same city.
The study then compared the air pollution that minority communities in Los Angeles experience. Black, Hispanic and Asian communities of low socioeconomic status experienced, on average, 38% greater air pollution levels than non-Hispanic, white citizens.
These air pollution inequalities exist in other countries also. In the U.K, previous studies have recorded similar results. Interestingly, studies have also shown that despite suffering from greater air pollution, low-income households emit the least air pollution.
On top of this, lower-income households own fewer cars and produce less pollution per kilometre driven. This shows that despite suffering from the worst air pollution, families in these areas contribute proportionally less to the situation.
These findings highlight the importance of addressing the systems which are creating the inequalities faced. In this case, we need to address how air pollution is created.
Want to read more? You can do so here.