PM2.5 polluters disproportionately and systemically affect people of color in the United States

Christopher W. Tessum, David A. Paolella, Sarah E. Chambliss, Joshua S. Apte, Jason D. Hill, Julian D. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Racial-ethnic minorities in the United States are exposed to disproportionately high levels of ambient fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5), the largest environmental cause of human mortality. However, it is unknown which emission sources drive this disparity and whether differences exist by emission sector, geography, or demographics. Quantifying the PM2.5 exposure caused by each emitter type, we show that nearly all major emission categories—consistently across states, urban and rural areas, income levels, and exposure levels—contribute to the systemic PM2.5 exposure disparity experienced by people of color. We identify the most inequitable emission source types by state and city, thereby highlighting potential opportunities for addressing this persistent environmental inequity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereabf4491
JournalScience Advances
Issue number18
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works. Distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 (CC BY).

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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