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Study claims racial component in air pollution, says whites breathe cleaner air

Study claims racial component to air pollution.
Study claims racial component to air pollution.Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

On Thursday, the George Soros-funded Think Progress said in no uncertain terms that race is a "determining factor" in who breathes cleaner air, citing a study conducted by the University of Minnesota. According to the study, non-white people breathe air that is far more polluted than white people. Worse yet, Think Progress implied, it's all white people's fault.

“We were quite surprised to find such a large disparity between whites and nonwhites related to air pollution,” said researcher Julian Marshall, who led the study. “Especially the fact that this difference is throughout the U.S., even in cities and states in the Midwest.”

According to the study, non-whites are exposed to approximately 40 percent more polluted air than whites. the study also claims that people of color are exposed to 38 percent more outdoor nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that comes from from vehicle exhaust and power plants, than whites.

Education and income also seemed to play a role, the study says. Nitrogen dioxide concentrations were also higher for low-income groups than for those with higher incomes, the Minnesota Post said, and it was higher among those with less than a high school education.

Marshall also looked at the exposure gap between high-income Hispanic and low-income white groups. Even in that comparison, Marshall said high-income Hispanics were exposed to more pollution than low-income whites.

Whose fault is this? After citing a 2012 Yale University study, Think Progress basically blamed white people: "Unfortunately, people of color contribute the least amount of air pollutants, despite being the most heavily impacted by them."

Twitchy said the study received a great deal of mockery on Twitter.

"My non-white lungs demand air parity! I propose @thinkprogress staff move to China to rectify," tweeted conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. Others joined in, deriding the report.

"I'm so lucky to be white! The air around me is always pristine and pure," another person said.

"Air Inequality is destroying this country!" exclaimed another Twitter user.

One commenter at Think Progress questioned the findings and the method used to reach them, noting that he breathes the same air as his multi-ethnic neighbors. Another reader also questioned the findings, saying none of the articles referenced state exactly how researchers came to their conclusions.

The Minnesota Post said, however, that researchers studied nitrogen dioxide levels in urban areas across the country and "compared specific areas within the cities based on populations defined in the U.S. Census as 'nonwhite' or 'white.'”

Think Progress wasn't finished and concluded with a paragraph that said race also plays a role in other issues, like healthcare. According to Think Progress, race apparently plays a role in doctor-patient relations and, the article claims, African Americans "live with chronic diseases stemming from racial discrimination." Carimah Townes, however, offered no proof of her final assertion.