Blacks more likely than whites to be breathing polluted air

Sadly, few will be shocked to hear that black Americans are more likely than whites to be breathing the nation’s most unhealthy air. An Associated Press analysis of year-2000 data from two federal sources — the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory and the Census Bureau’s population count — reveals that blacks nationwide are 79 percent more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where air pollution from nearby industrial plants probably poses the greatest health risk. Hispanics and Asians face elevated risks as well. AP also found that residents of these neighborhoods were generally poorer and less educated, and endured unemployment rates nearly 20 percent higher than the national average. The EPA has been trying to loosen industry’s reporting requirements for the TRI — a move activists fear will make it much more difficult to track both industrial pollution and who is being affected by it.

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