As air pollution declined, Tribal Nations got left out

 A new study puts data to anecdotal concerns that Native Americans have borne an increasing pollution burden. 

Data has historically been sparse on the impact of industrial facilities near tribal land. 

Photographer: Miguel Sotomayor/Moment RF

By Linda Poon

Although air pollution in the U.S. had been on a steady decline over the last two decades (until recently), the benefits have not been evenly distributed. A new analysis of data between 2000 and 2018 shows that trends for Native American communities on tribal land have not kept up with the decline in other communities, which means Native Americans now bear an increasing burden of dangerous air pollutants.

The research, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Public Health, adds to ample past studies that have documented the disproportionately high exposure among people of color in urban areas, especially those in Black and brown neighborhoods that have historically faced racially restrictive redlining policies.

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By Linda Poon

Linda Poon is a writer for CityLab in Washington, D.C., focused on climate change and urban life. She also writes the CityLab Daily newsletter.


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(Source:; March 24, 2022;
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