New study shows African Americans face greater pollution-related health risks

A recent EPA study showed that minorities face a greater risk from air pollution than white people, and black people in particular are the most disproportionately affected.

The study, which was published by the American Journal of Public Health, focused on air pollution caused by particulate matter (PM) of 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less. Particulate matter is tied to various health problems, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, nervous system impairment and respiratory illnesses including asthma, respiratory infections and allergy symptoms.

A key reason as to why African-Americans face a disproportionate risk of pollution-related health problems is because oil and gas facilities are located in or near low-income communities where residents are primarily people of color who are not able to relocate their families. Texas Southern University professor and “Father of Environmental Justice” Dr. Robert Bullard spoke to Buzzfeed News about these racial disparities, noting that the study adds to “a vast body of research showing unequal protection and unequal burden of pollution borne by poor people and people of color.”

Air Alliance Houston is continuously working to raise awareness of the public health threats related to air pollution in low-income neighborhoods and communities of people of color. We strongly urge the EPA and TCEQ to use this data to prioritize public health in these areas and work toward bringing these communities closer to environmental equality.