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Study: Air pollution disproportionately impacts minority communities

Researchers found Asian and Hispanic communities have much more air pollution than predominantly white neighborhoods.

SAN DIEGO — Air pollution is having disproportionate impacts on minority communities, according to a new study from UC San Diego.

Researchers found Asian and Hispanic communities have much more air pollution than predominantly white neighborhoods.

"Freeways have historically been built through communities of color and of course people have been displaced because of that but are also now located near it," said Pascal Polonik, a UC San Diego researcher.

He said this includes neighborhoods near any sort of industrialization, freeways or ports.

"You definitely get that industrial smell down here," said Gemma Serrano who is native to San Diego.

Serrano notices certain neighborhoods have more pollution than others. CBS 8 spoke with her at a gas station in Barrio Logan.

"The air is completely different from other areas like I live in City Heights so you get some more fresher air but down here it smells like oil really heavy," Serrano said.

UCSD's study hits home for her. "It makes me very angry because I am a minority community. It just makes me upset with how our system is built and how our communities are pushed out," Serrano said.

Researchers are on the same page.

"This is a policy failure basically," Polonik said. "If you say all people should be treated equally and you've been regulating this for years clearly something isn't working out."

Researchers said policy changes focused on transportation emissions could make a big difference for underrepresented communities. 

WATCH RELATED: San Diego southeastern neighborhoods dealing with bigger inequalities compared to others (April 2022).

    

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