skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure

Abstract

Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) air pollution exposure is the largest environmental health risk factor in the United States. Here, we link PM 2.5 exposure to the human activities responsible for PM 2.5 pollution. We use these results to explore “pollution inequity”: the difference between the environmental health damage caused by a racial–ethnic group and the damage that group experiences. We show that, in the United States, PM 2.5 exposure is disproportionately caused by consumption of goods and services mainly by the non-Hispanic white majority, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities. On average, non-Hispanic whites experience a “pollution advantage”: They experience ∼17% less air pollution exposure than is caused by their consumption. Blacks and Hispanics on average bear a “pollution burden” of 56% and 63% excess exposure, respectively, relative to the exposure caused by their consumption. The total disparity is caused as much by how much people consume as by how much pollution they breathe. Differences in the types of goods and services consumed by each group are less important. PM 2.5 exposures declined ∼50% during 2002–2015 for all three racial–ethnic groups, but pollution inequity has remained high.

Authors:
; ; ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo; ; ; ; ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo; ; ORCiD logo
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1499052
Grant/Contract Number:  
EE0004397
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America Journal Volume: 116 Journal Issue: 13; Journal ID: ISSN 0027-8424
Publisher:
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English

Citation Formats

Tessum, Christopher W., Apte, Joshua S., Goodkind, Andrew L., Muller, Nicholas Z., Mullins, Kimberley A., Paolella, David A., Polasky, Stephen, Springer, Nathaniel P., Thakrar, Sumil K., Marshall, Julian D., and Hill, Jason D. Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.1818859116.
Tessum, Christopher W., Apte, Joshua S., Goodkind, Andrew L., Muller, Nicholas Z., Mullins, Kimberley A., Paolella, David A., Polasky, Stephen, Springer, Nathaniel P., Thakrar, Sumil K., Marshall, Julian D., & Hill, Jason D. Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1818859116.
Tessum, Christopher W., Apte, Joshua S., Goodkind, Andrew L., Muller, Nicholas Z., Mullins, Kimberley A., Paolella, David A., Polasky, Stephen, Springer, Nathaniel P., Thakrar, Sumil K., Marshall, Julian D., and Hill, Jason D. Mon . "Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.1818859116.
@article{osti_1499052,
title = {Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure},
author = {Tessum, Christopher W. and Apte, Joshua S. and Goodkind, Andrew L. and Muller, Nicholas Z. and Mullins, Kimberley A. and Paolella, David A. and Polasky, Stephen and Springer, Nathaniel P. and Thakrar, Sumil K. and Marshall, Julian D. and Hill, Jason D.},
abstractNote = {Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ) air pollution exposure is the largest environmental health risk factor in the United States. Here, we link PM 2.5 exposure to the human activities responsible for PM 2.5 pollution. We use these results to explore “pollution inequity”: the difference between the environmental health damage caused by a racial–ethnic group and the damage that group experiences. We show that, in the United States, PM 2.5 exposure is disproportionately caused by consumption of goods and services mainly by the non-Hispanic white majority, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities. On average, non-Hispanic whites experience a “pollution advantage”: They experience ∼17% less air pollution exposure than is caused by their consumption. Blacks and Hispanics on average bear a “pollution burden” of 56% and 63% excess exposure, respectively, relative to the exposure caused by their consumption. The total disparity is caused as much by how much people consume as by how much pollution they breathe. Differences in the types of goods and services consumed by each group are less important. PM 2.5 exposures declined ∼50% during 2002–2015 for all three racial–ethnic groups, but pollution inequity has remained high.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.1818859116},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
number = 13,
volume = 116,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {3}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1818859116

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 14 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Environmental Repercussions and the Economic Structure: An Input-Output Approach
journal, August 1970

  • Leontief, Wassily
  • The Review of Economics and Statistics, Vol. 52, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.2307/1926294

Twelve-month, 12 km resolution North American WRF-Chem v3.4 air quality simulation: performance evaluation
journal, January 2015

  • Tessum, C. W.; Hill, J. D.; Marshall, J. D.
  • Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 8, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.5194/gmd-8-957-2015

The distribution of income is worse than you think: Including pollution impacts into measures of income inequality
journal, March 2018


National greenhouse-gas accounting for effective climate policy on international trade
journal, March 2015

  • Kander, Astrid; Jiborn, Magnus; Moran, Daniel D.
  • Nature Climate Change, Vol. 5, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2555

Changes in Transportation-Related Air Pollution Exposures by Race-Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status: Outdoor Nitrogen Dioxide in the United States in 2000 and 2010
journal, September 2017

  • Clark, Lara P.; Millet, Dylan B.; Marshall, Julian D.
  • Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 125, Issue 9
  • DOI: 10.1289/EHP959

Consumption-based human health impacts of primary PM2.5: The hidden burden of international trade
journal, November 2017


Public Health Costs of Primary PM 2.5 and Inorganic PM 2.5 Precursor Emissions in the United States
journal, May 2016

  • Heo, Jinhyok; Adams, Peter J.; Gao, H. Oliver
  • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 50, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b06125

Mapping the Structure of the World Economy
journal, July 2012

  • Lenzen, Manfred; Kanemoto, Keiichiro; Moran, Daniel
  • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 46, Issue 15
  • DOI: 10.1021/es300171x

China’s international trade and air pollution in the United States
journal, January 2014

  • Lin, Jintai; Pan, Da; Davis, Steven J.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 111, Issue 5
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1312860111

Effects of atmospheric transport and trade on air pollution mortality in China
journal, January 2017


Consumption-based accounting of CO2 emissions
journal, March 2010

  • Davis, S. J.; Caldeira, K.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 107, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0906974107

Socioeconomic Disparities and Air Pollution Exposure: a Global Review
journal, September 2015

  • Hajat, Anjum; Hsia, Charlene; O’Neill, Marie S.
  • Current Environmental Health Reports, Vol. 2, Issue 4
  • DOI: 10.1007/s40572-015-0069-5

InMAP: A model for air pollution interventions
journal, April 2017


Input–Output Analysis and Carbon Footprinting: an Overview of Applications
journal, September 2009


Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008
journal, April 2011

  • Peters, G. P.; Minx, J. C.; Weber, C. L.
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 108, Issue 21
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1006388108

Addressing Global Mortality from Ambient PM 2.5
journal, June 2015

  • Apte, Joshua S.; Marshall, Julian D.; Cohen, Aaron J.
  • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 49, Issue 13
  • DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01236

Chronic Exposure to Fine Particles and Mortality: An Extended Follow-up of the Harvard Six Cities Study from 1974 to 2009
journal, July 2012

  • Lepeule, Johanna; Laden, Francine; Dockery, Douglas
  • Environmental Health Perspectives, Vol. 120, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1104660

Global estimates of mortality associated with long-term exposure to outdoor fine particulate matter
journal, September 2018

  • Burnett, Richard; Chen, Hong; Szyszkowicz, Mieczysław
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 115, Issue 38
  • DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1803222115

Transboundary health impacts of transported global air pollution and international trade
journal, March 2017


A class of non-linear exposure-response models suitable for health impact assessment applicable to large cohort studies of ambient air pollution
journal, March 2016

  • Nasari, Masoud M.; Szyszkowicz, Mieczysław; Chen, Hong
  • Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, Vol. 9, Issue 8
  • DOI: 10.1007/s11869-016-0398-z

Impact, efficiency, inequality, and injustice of urban air pollution: variability by emission location
journal, January 2018


Effect of Model Spatial Resolution on Estimates of Fine Particulate Matter Exposure and Exposure Disparities in the United States
journal, June 2018

  • Paolella, David A.; Tessum, Christopher W.; Adams, Peter J.
  • Environmental Science & Technology Letters, Vol. 5, Issue 7
  • DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.8b00279