Study finds air-quality inequality in San Francisco Bay area

According to a new study, people of color and poorer residents in the San Francisco Bay area breathe more than their share of polluted air. “We have a problem with the degree of environmental inequality … even though we regard ourselves as a region that is very progressive,” said Manuel Pastor, director of the Center for Justice, Tolerance, and Community at UC-Santa Cruz, which conducted the study. In the nine-county Bay Area, nearly two-thirds of those living within a mile of pollution sources regulated by the U.S. EPA are people of color, and one-third are white; 2.5 miles or more away, the percentages flip. Recent immigrants are almost twice as likely to live within a mile of such a source than 2.5 miles or farther from it. And living so close to industrial polluters puts all residents’ health at risk. “There’s been too much suffering for too many years,” says activist Rubye Sherrod. “The people who can help haven’t paid any attention to what’s going on or simply don’t care. I’m not sure.”