Older Black adults are over three times more likely to die from air pollution than older white adults, according to a new study.

Source: Chris Tessum/Youtube

The findings are a part of data released this month by Industrial Economics, a consulting group commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund. Researchers looked at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. census data, health and mortality statistics of Medicare recipients, and other peer-reviewed studies on older adults’ exposure to air pollutants.

With all of the data gathered, they found rates among people of color were significantly disproportionate to their share of the U.S. population of 65 and older.

“This shines a light on the cumulative impact of historic discriminatory policies where a lot of large African American (or) Black populations live,” said EDF senior health scientist Ananya Roy.

Researchers discovered that 670 per 100,000 older Black people died of air pollution-related health conditions. This was nearly three times the rate for white Americans, who were 210 per 100,000. Older Hispanic adults had a death rate of 260, while Native Americans’ death rate was 200. In general, people in poverty also had a 30 percent higher risk of death.

They studied pollutants that were 2.5 micrometers in size, which can be inhaled and penetrated through the lungs and blood. These airborne pollutants are a mixture of tiny particles made up of carbon, dust, acids, and metals.

According to the EPA, their air quality standard for fine particulate matter is 12 micrograms per cubic meter. However, according to the study, researchers suggest that this should be lowered to a standard of 10 micrograms, and this would prevent 4,800 deaths, and a standard of 8 micrograms would prevent more than 19,000 deaths.

Air pollution is an invisible killer and has been linked to so many diseases, including fatty liver disease, depression, and other mental health issues, and a study even found that nearly 6 million babies born prematurely in 2019 were likely linked to air pollution. Eating meat has been linked to a rise in air pollution, and factory farms are one of the biggest to blame for our dirty air. According to the WHO, an estimated 4.2 million people every year are killed from outdoor air pollution, and 99 percent of the global population breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits, with low and middle-income areas disproportionately affected. Check out these eco-artists that are using their art to call attention to the massive problem of air pollution and sign the petition to demand federal clean-up of disproportionately affected polluted areas in the United States.

Sign this petition to protect community activists who expose the EPA’s environmental racism and sign this petition to demand the EPA gives justice to poor and minority communities that have been affected.

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