Minority Neighborhoods Face Greater Exposure to Air Pollution

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THURSDAY, Sept. 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Exposure to air pollution can vary sharply by the ethnic or racial makeup of a community, according to a large, multistate study.

The data showed that people living in Hispanic neighborhoods are exposed to more air pollution than those living in white, black or Chinese communities. The researchers suggested that strategies are needed to address this racial and ethnic disparity in air pollution exposure.

"The higher levels of exposure to ambient air pollution among ethnic minorities and minority communities in this study, which in some cases exceeded the EPA standards, contributed to environmental injustice and highlighted the need for additional strategies for reducing racial/ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure and air pollution-related morbidity and mortality," the researchers wrote.

The study, led by Miranda Jones from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, involved approximately 5,900 people living in California, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York and North Carolina.

From 2000 to 2002, household-level "fine particulate matter" and nitrogen oxides were examined along with the races and ethnicity of residents in the participant neighborhoods.

The research, published in the American Journal of Public Health, revealed that white neighborhoods have the lowest level of exposure to air pollution. Meanwhile, exposure was higher in neighborhoods mostly comprising racial and ethnic minorities. Hispanic areas had the highest exposure, the study's authors said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on disparities in exposure to air pollution.