Air pollution from sources like traffic and industry impacts every corner of Allegheny County – but it doesn’t impact them equally. A new study from the University of Pittsburgh confirms what many have long suspected: Air pollution disproportionately affects minority and low-income residents of Allegheny County, and those people are also at a higher risk of associated health risks.
Pittsburgh Quarterly interviewed Jim Fabisiak, director of the Center for Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of Pittsburgh, which conducted the study.
Here’s an excerpt from that story:
Hardest hit (by air pollution) are “environmental justice” communities, defined as places where at least 20 percent of residents live in poverty or 30 percent or more are non-white minorities, or both.
In Allegheny County, such communities are 20 times more likely to endure the highest concentrations of NO2 pollution than places with more white residents and households with higher incomes, the study reports.And 40 percent of the estimated pollution-related coronary heart disease deaths were among residents of environmental justice communities, even though those neighborhoods account for only 27 percent of the county population.
Coronary heart disease isn’t the only elevated health concern residents of those neighborhoods face disproportionately. Black carbon and NO2 contribute to other air pollutants, such as fine particulates and ground-level ozone.
And the list of health problems associated with them include asthma and other respiratory diseases, stroke, adverse birth outcomes and others.
GASP congratulates Fabisiak – who also serves as one of our board members – and his team for the publication of this important study.
“Now more than ever, organizations like us need to focus on environmental injustice issues impacting our local communities,” GASP Executive Director Rachel Filippini said. “Studies like this show us that we still have so much work to do. We’re so thankful to have Jim on our board – his knowledge and expertise help us be better warriors for the communities that need the most help.”
Here’s more local news coverage of the study:
Environmental Justice in Pittsburgh: Poor, Minority Neighborhoods See Higher Rates of Deaths from Air Pollution, published by Environmental Health News