Harvard Study Documents the Persisting Problem of Environmental Racism

The term “environmental racism” was first used about 40 years ago and brought attention to the fact that African Americans are more likely than their White peers to be exposed to air, water, and other types of pollution. New research led by scholars at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that decades later, environmental racism is still very much an issue that needs to be addressed.

In collaboration with the Environmental Systems Research Institute, the study authors developed a new platform linking 17 years’ worth of demographic data with data on fine particulate pollution from across the United States. Air pollution data was based on satellite observations and atmospheric chemistry models. The data was compared to racial and income data for the nation’s 32,000 ZIP code tabulation areas.

They found that nationwide, air pollution had been reduced by 40 percent during the first decades of this century. But in 2016, the average air pollution concentration for the Black population was 13.7 percent higher than that of the White population. Further, the study found that, as the Black population increased in a particular zip code, so did the air pollution, with a steep incline seen for zip codes where more than 85 percent of the population was Black.

“Our findings regarding relative disparities indicate the importance of strong, targeted air- pollution-reduction strategies, not only to reduce overall air-pollution levels but also to move closer toward the EPA’s aim to provide all people with the same degree of protection from environmental hazards,” said Abdulrahman Jbaily, a former postdoctoral researcher at Harvard Chan School and lead author of the study.

The full study, “Air Pollution Exposure Disparities Across US Population and Income Groups” was published in the journal Nature. It may be accessed here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Central State University to Merge Two Colleges to Optimize Resources and Efficiency

The primary goal of the merger is to improve operational efficiency, support increased enrollment, and optimize resources. Notably, the focus on operational streamlining does not include any plans for staff or faculty layoffs.

Four Black Scholars Selected for Dean Positions

The dean appointments are Chukwuka Onwumechili at Howard University, Myra Bozeman at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, Joan Tilghman at Coppin State University in Baltimore, and Omolola Eniola-Adefeso at the University of Illinois.

Voorhees University Launches Its First Doctor of Education Degree Program

The new doctor of education in leadership program will offer two specialized tracks for students, preparing them to become successful leaders in their chosen educational field. Students can choose to focus their studies on either PK-12 education or higher education administration.

Fielding Graduate University Honors Ronald Mason for Lifetime Achievements in HBCU Leadership

Ronald Mason has served as president of three HBCUs: Jackson State University, Southern University and A&M College, and the University of the District of Columbia, where he was the longest tenured president in the university's history.

Featured Jobs