Racial disparity in NO2 air pollution kills 7000 nonwhite people every year from Ischemic Heart Disease.

Racial inequality in the U.S., by county (Source: PLOS One)
I had a little free time this weekend, so dug into a study I’ve seen cited a few times recently. The study, National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality: Outdoor NO2 Air Pollution in the United States, was published in April in the PLOS ONE journal.

Nitrogen Dioxide is a major traffic related pollutant, a highly reactive gas emitted by cars, trucks, locomotives and other vehicles.  It is also emitted by coal-burning power plants.

The study’s findings and conclusions are appalling.  
  • Low-income nonwhite young children and elderly people are disproportionately exposed to residential outdoor NO2.
  • Nationally, population-weighted mean NO2 concentrations are 38 percent higher for nonwhites than for whites. 
  • The environmental health implications of that concentration disparity are compelling. For example, we estimate that reducing nonwhites’ NO2 concentrations to levels experienced by whites would reduce Ischemic Heart Disease (IHD) mortality by ~7,000 deaths per year.

Keep in mind that these increased deaths are for just one disease, Ischemic Heart Disease, also known as Coronary Artery Disease.

 Nitrogen Dioxide is also associated with respiratory diseases, including airway inflammation and asthma, and in combination with other pollutants forms particulate matter, which is implicated in a wide range of other diseases.

National Patterns in Environmental Injustice and Inequality: Outdoor NO2 Air Pollution in the United States, PLOS One

Racism in the Air You Breathe: When Where You Live Determines How Fast You Die, The Root

The racial divide in America is this elemental: Blacks and whites actually breathe different air, Washington Post

This Is How Racist Your Air Is, Mother Jones Magazine

When it comes to the injustice of air pollution, the divide between blacks and whites is greater than the gap between the rich and the poor, Pacific Standard