The Great Decline: Toxic Air Pollution and Neighborhood Dynamics
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Recent research on environmental inequality has found evidence for racial disparities in exposure to air pollution with communities of color more likely to live in more highly-polluted neighborhoods. Additionally, during the period 1990 to 2010, both national levels of air pollution have steadily and dramatically declined and neighborhoods in the United States have become more racially and ethnically diverse. Given these simultaneous and complex processes this study seeks to determine to what extent the improvements in neighborhood air quality have benefitted neighborhoods of color. Using cross-sectional and change models this research finds that race was predictive of greater improvements in air quality for neighborhoods of color between 1990 and 2000, but not for 2000 to 2010. Furthermore, race is significantly predictive of toxic air emissions for all years in the cross-sectional analyses. In other words, despite a narrowing in racial disparities between 1990 and 2010, communities of color are still disproportionately exposed to higher levels of toxic air emissions in their residential neighborhoods.
- Sociology