By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) - Six air pollutants have taken a greater toll on the health of people of color than on white people, according to a new study detailed Wednesday in the Washington Post.
The University of Washington study, Environmental Health Perspectives, is the most detailed to date on how air pollution takes a heavier toll on Blacks, Hispanics and Asians.
It is a problem that has caught the attention of US President Joe Biden who wants to move quickly to bolster clean energy in communities that have suffered from decades of pollution.
"Our hope is that documenting these disparities not only provides useful information, but also provides a call to action for turning to solutions," Julian Marshall, senior author of the study and professor of civil and environmental engineering at the school, told the newspaper.
The study investigated how six pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, as well as particle matter from dust and vehicle exhaust adversely affect the health of minorities in all 50 US states and the capital area.
It details while pollution levels have decreased in the last 30 years, people of color are more exposed to the six pollutants than whites because they are more likely to live near sources of pollution, including power plants, toxic waste sites and manufacturing facilities, the Washington Post reported.
A historical racist housing plan was also named as a factor. In the 1930s the US government employed "redlining” --coloring sections of cities that were home to Blacks and immigrants and outlining them in red, a deterrent to federal investment in housing.
The communities are still home to the same minorities.
“It's the racial segregation which has been present in our society forever,” said Marshall.
Robert Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University who is known as the "father of environmental justice" for his dedication to the disparity issue, said it is past time the federal government acted to "do as much as it can within the law to focus on those communities that have been hit the hardest."
Biden established a program called Justice40 Initiative, which is designed to provide 40% of the benefits of environmental investments to the affected communities.