U of M's Julian Marshall surprised by public health implications of race-air pollution study

TCAirPollution.jpg
Twin Cities NO2 map
The more yellow an area, the higher the nitrogen dioxide levels. Orange depicts particularly high concentrations.
Because people of color tend to live near highways or power plants, they're exposed to a lot more nitrogen dioxide than whites, a new study finds. As a result, there are about 7,000 heart disease deaths in America each year that wouldn't happen if nonwhites were exposed to the same NO2 levels as whites.

That dramatic finding surprised University of Minnesota environmental engineering professor Julian Marshall, who coauthored "National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality: Outdoor NO2 Air Pollution in the United States" along with Lara Clark and Dylan Millet.

See also:
Mpls air pollution affects blacks more than whites, U of M study finds

"It's a huge health impact, and that's surprising, shocking," Marshall tells us. "If we had found there are big differences by income, then, you know, there's all kinds of things that high-income people can buy their way out of... that's how the free market works. But that's not what we found."

"There are disparities [in NO2 exposure] by income, but the disparities by race are larger even after you account for income," Marshall continued. "I can't really put together an ethical justification for that the way I can for income."

Another surprise, Marshall says, is that some cities with relatively clean air, such as Minneapolis, still have large gaps between NO2 exposure levels for whites and nonwhites.

"In our model, the concentration in the Twin Cities, like in most cities, are higher downtown and along major roadways," Marshall says. "Concentrations are higher where traffic is."

In Minnesota, people of color are exposed to about 45 percent more NO2 than whites, according to the study (9.9 parts per billion versus 6.8, respectively). The racial gap is smaller in the Twin Cities, where nonwhites are exposed to 18 percent more N02 than whites, but overall air pollution levels are higher, with people of color being exposed to 11.7 NO2 particles per billion, while whites are exposed to 9.9.

To see an interactive map of NO2 concentration levels throughout the country, click here. The Twin Cities NO2 map at the top of this post is a screengrab from it.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.



Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
16 comments
Kaytie Kamphoff
Kaytie Kamphoff

It's called Environmental Racism. Research it.. it's well-proven by data and peer-reviewed articles.

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

its called exploitation ...exploiting those with no voice or political clout

digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

wow... this is egregious


"Because people of color tend to live near highways or power plants, they're exposed to a lot more nitrogen dioxide than whites, a new study finds. "

Shawn Kuiper
Shawn Kuiper

I am a bit confused here, they choose to live where they live right? No one forced it upon them, if there income is less is it because they have choose to live with less or because us white forced it upon them? Come on give me a break the areas on this map have plenty of other people living there as well including white people... Many people choose to live in the areas shown for many reasons, public transportation, near city for work, could be the area they grew up or the area they most feel at home... Highly doubt someone that spent generations living near the city wants to move to say elk river or big lake. They live near the city because they feel comfortable there. Now just because you threw income and demographics into the mix does not mean anyone has forced it upon. Just means that is where and how, and with what means they are choosing to survive. I don't care for the article implying that this is somehow tied to race at all..

Kirk Burback
Kirk Burback

So, should we send all people of color out to work in the fresh air of a farm? Oh wait...that won’t be perceived well

hopjeremy
hopjeremy

Cow poop produces pollution. Better call Al Gore in to put a stop to it. Maybe Bill Gates can shove some more GMO into the food.


digitalprotocol
digitalprotocol topcommenter

@mingtran its very negative and the use of the word "whites" and "people of color" could be seen as offensive


tend to live near highways and power plants is bad way to phrase it

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@digitalprotocol Exactly. Stop buying into it. Solve the problem instead of making it worse.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

@digitalprotocol Yawn. They are only words, The statement is true. Bigger fish to fry. Super boring.

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...