Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, March 15, 2019

Contact: Myrelis Diaz-Martinez, (787) 232-1050,

Study: Latino, African-American Communities Face Disproportionate Risk From Pollution

TUCSON, Ariz.— A new study finds that African-American and Latino communities are exposed to more deadly air pollution than predominately white communities, and that most of the pollution they suffer is generated by white communities.

The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences, found that on average Hispanics  suffer 63 percent more fine particulate matter air pollution — one of the leading environmental health indicators in the United States — than they produce. African-American communities suffer 56 percent more than they produce. By comparison, non-Hispanic whites suffer 17 percent less exposure than they produce.

“These disturbing findings validate what we’ve known for a long time: Latino communities and other communities of color too often bear the brunt of pollution created by other segments of society,” said Myrelis Diaz-Martinez, Latino engagement coordinator at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These are fundamental injustices that need to be addressed.”

Although the new study, called “Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial-ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure,” found that, overall, pollution exposure for all groups fell by about 50 percent between 2003 and 2015, “pollution inequity remains high,”  because minority groups continue bear the brunt of pollution generated by white communities.

“Clean air and clean water are basic human rights, no matter where you live,” Diaz-Martinez said. “While it’s encouraging to see the overall levels fall, there are still way too many people in Latino and Afro-descendent communities being unfairly put in harm’s way.”

Read the study.

The Center’s Latino engagement program works to uplift diverse voices and increase participation of black, indigenous and people of color in the environmental movement to make it more accessible to all.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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