When Air Pollution is Overlooked, People Get Hurt—Typically People of Color

A story in Undark, Mother Jones, and Salon cites research by RFF Senior Fellow Alan Krupnick on the environmental justice concerns regarding air quality monitoring.

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Jan. 18, 2022

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In practice, many experts and advocates say, that system is broken. Data collected by researchers at the nonprofit Resources for the Future, along with studies from at least one academic group, suggests that actual levels of some air pollutants in Ransom Place and other U.S. neighborhoods are higher than what the monitors indicate. There are simply too few monitors, they say, to give an accurate picture of local pollution levels...

Still, Fowlie and others see value in looking at satellite pollution estimates to fill in the data gaps inherent among the nation’s ground monitoring network. The satellite estimates reveal, for instance, that the monitors may be missing pollution. And some researchers, including Alan Krupnick, a senior fellow at Resources for the Future, and Corbett Grainger, an environmental economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, say that may be strategic. Both have been comparing satellite data with ground monitor data and have found evidence that in some counties, including where Brooks lives, monitors may sit just outside pollution hotspots — perhaps because state regulators want to avoid costly investments necessary to bring down pollution levels.

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