People living in north Denver and Commerce City breathe dirtier air



Looking out over Interstate 70 near Cover Park in Denver on November 30, 2022. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post)

Denver residents who live along Interstate 70 have long been convinced that they breathe in more pollution than people living in other parts of the city.

A first-of-its-kind study by doctoral students at the University of Colorado Boulder proves some neighborhoods are more polluted than others and explores how redlining and other racist housing practices play a role. It reveals how people of color were forced into those districts.

Alexander Bradley, a doctoral student studying atmospheric chemistry, used satellite images showing air pollution by census tract and an old map of the Denver area with red lines to map polluted air. and the disproportionately affected neighborhoods of Globeville, Illyria-Swansea, and Commerce City.

“In Denver, pollution is not evenly distributed among people of different races and ethnicities,” Bradley said. “Where people live has historically been determined by racist practices like redlining and racially restrictive neighborhood codes.”

Bradley’s research was published Wednesday in the journal Environment Science & Technology. The ability to use satellite imagery to pinpoint air pollution in nearby areas and compare pollution levels within the same city is relatively new.

The study looked at levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. That’s because those were the pollutants measured by the satellites Bradley used in his research. The map shows these pollutants floating in high levels in Commerce City and north Denver, dissipating as researchers shift their focus away from those areas.

They used maps from the 1930s and 1940s that show which areas were redlined. This was the practice of excluding certain communities from bank loans because of the race or ethnicity of the people living there.

“This is important because I think every city has a story about why people live there, and I think that impacts who is most affected by pollution,” Bradley said. .

Joost du Gault, a professor at the University of Boulder who is Bradley’s doctoral advisor and one of the report’s authors, said scientists aren’t sure whether air pollution varies across Denver. That’s because the city’s air quality is affected by wildfires, oil and gas drilling, agriculture, and more, all of which are outside the city limits and can occur anywhere.

But he said the data supports that Commerce City and north Denver are bearing the brunt of the pollution.

“The areas where the lines were drawn almost 100 years ago still have the highest pollution levels,” Du Gouu said.

A high percentage of the polluted air comes from cars and trucks speeding along Interstate 70, Bradley said. The neighborhood is also close to Interstate 25 and I-76.

Nearby industrial sources, such as the Suncor Energy refinery, also have a significant impact on air pollution, Du Gou said.

But there are solutions, both scientists said.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *