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The Health and Social Justice Implications of 'Line-Source' Air Pollution
Roughly one-third of the U.S. population unknowingly lives, works, or goes to school within a toxic auto-emission zone that has nothing to do with smog. These zones are defined by key distances and other factors that shape an ultra-fine particulate matter plume near busy roadways, writes Bill Adams, editor of UrbDeZine. Within these zones are elevated rates of death and a wide array of conditions that range from heart disease to autism.
Moreover, these auto-emission zones have significant social justice implications, adds Adams, because of the disproportionate number of poor and ethnic minorities that reside within them. He writes:
"Suburban expansion creates a demand for road expansion through existing neighborhoods. Lower income neighborhoods and ethnic minority populations least often wield the political influence necessary to resist road expansion projects. Additionally, multifamily and affordable housing is more likely to be sited near high traffic areas than is more expensive detached housing. More recently, the construction of high density “transit oriented developments” (TODs), which are intended to reduce auto reliance and which often include affordable housing, are frequently sited near high traffic areas."
Adams goes on to posit:
"Perhaps, if the public was more aware of the direct and unequal health impacts of high-traffic roadways, transitioning from roadway expansion to transportation alternatives would receive more urgency."