Study Claims White Drivers Pollute Black, Brown Areas of Los Angeles

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A new study by a set of USC researchers claims that white drivers overwhelmingly pollute black and brown areas of Los Angeles.

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Sammy Roth reflected on his own alleged “complicity” in polluting the lives of minorities when he discovered that “Angelenos who drive more tend to be exposed to less air pollution — and Angelenos who drive less tend to be exposed to more pollution.”

“The core finding is that for every 1% increase in miles driven to and from work by people who live in a particular part of L.A. County, there’s an estimated 0.62% decrease in the lung-damaging ‘fine particulate matter’ to which those Angelenos are exposed,” wrote Roth.

Geoff Boeing, a professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy and lead author of the study, told Roth that the alleged problem stems from Los Angeles County’s racist history of building highways through “low-income communities of color.”

“Today, many residents of the county’s whiter, more affluent neighborhoods — who were often able to keep highways out of their own backyards — commute to work through lower-income Black and Latino neighborhoods bisected by the 10, 110, 105 freeways and more,” Roth noted.

Boeing said that the white commuters simply drive their cars through those neighborhoods and rarely stop to patronize businesses.