RALEIGH — Black Americans bear a higher burden from the effects of particulate matter air pollution than the overall population, according to a study published Feb. 22 in the American Journal of Public Health.
The disparities for blacks are also more pronounced than are disparities based on poverty status, according to the findings by Environmental Protection Agency scientists at Research Triangle Park.
The study, which calculated the health burden from particulate matter, or PM, emissions for racial and ethnic groups and by poverty status nationally and for each state and county, found that blacks faced a 54 percent higher burden than did the overall population for small pollution particles known as PM 2.5, or no larger than 2.5 microns. These particles generally come from burning fossil fuels and are associated with increased lung and heart disease and premature death.
“Strictly socioeconomic considerations may be insufficient to reduce PM burdens equitably across populations,” researchers concluded.