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White people cause the most pollution, but people of color suffer the most from it

By Ellie Anzilotti ~ Fast Company

Buying things–especially things that require a lot of shipping–causes air pollution. White people in the U.S. are bigger spenders, but the pollution their dollars create primarily affects people of color.

If you are black or Hispanic in the United States, your environmental footprint is probably much lighter than the average white American. But at the same time, you probably breathe in much more pollution.

This disparity has long been felt in communities of color. It’s formed the backbone of environmental justice campaigns calling for protections and green-infrastructure interventions in those areas that are disproportionately affected by pollution. Much research has been done to back up the fact that minorities, on average, are subjected to poorer air quality than white Americans. But until now, there’s been little data to prove that their consumption habits contribute far less to atmospheric pollution.

A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Washington set out to answer that question. In a newly released study, they show that in the U.S., fine particulate matter air pollution “is disproportionately caused by consumption of goods and services mainly by the non-Hispanic white majority, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities.”

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