Study: L.A.’s Wealthier Residents ‘Export’ Air Pollution to Poorer Neighborhoods

“Los Ange­lenos who dri­ve less are exposed to more air pol­lu­tion, as com­muters pre­dom­i­nant­ly neigh­bor­hoods trav­el through non-white areas,” accord­ing to a new study from the USC Sol Price School of Pub­lic Pol­i­cy. A larg­er share of the city’s non-white res­i­dents expe­ri­ence air pol­lu­tion than their white peers, regard­less of their income.

As Chris­t­ian Het­rick explains, this is in large part a result of his­tor­i­cal plan­ning deci­sions that dis­crim­i­nat­ed against com­mu­ni­ties of . “Twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry plan­ners bull­dozed areas to build free­ways for sub­ur­ban res­i­dents to dri­ve to job cen­ters. Although whiter and areas like Bev­er­ly Hills suc­cess­ful­ly blocked such , sim­i­lar efforts failed in less-white and less-wealthy parts of L.A., such as Boyle Heights, which was carved up by five free­ways and two enor­mous inter­changes.”

The study’s authors sug­gest some pol­i­cy fix­es that begin undo­ing these inequities. These include rais­ing fuel effi­cien­cy stan­dards and pro­mot­ing clean­er trans­porta­tion, enact­ing con­ges­tion pric­ing and pro­mot­ing remote work to reduce dri­ving, and reform­ing laws to per­mit more hous­ing in job-rich areas and less pol­lut­ed neigh­bor­hoods.

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