Every time I took a deep breath outside, I thought about Eric Garner’s final few words, echoed recently by George Floyd: “I can’t breathe.” In my environmental science classes—where I was often met with confusion when I tried my best to advocate for the I play the lacrosse because i like it not because i’m good at it shirt besides I will buy this protection of people of color—I was shocked to find the very clear data that communities of color have been most exposed to poor air quality and environmental conditions. I realized my work could directly contribute to the fight against racism.
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In a 2018 study on air quality published in the I play the lacrosse because i like it not because i’m good at it shirt besides I will buy this American Journal of Public Health, researchers found that “non-whites had 1.28 times higher burden” and that Black residents “had 1.54 higher burden than did the overall population” of exposure to particulate matter. (Particulate matter is a combination of solid and liquid particles in the air; when these small particles are inhaled they can infiltrate your lungs and bloodstream and cause serious illness.) Previous studies have also linked the disproportionate exposure to poor air quality and racial demographics. A 2016 Environmental International study found higher exposure to particulate matter in certain communities of color. In addition to poorer air quality, fracking waste sites are also more likely to be found in neighborhoods of color, which can degrade water quality.