EPA Warns People of Color Face Disproportionate Harm from Climate Change

People of color face disproportionate harm from climate change, a new analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency found.

Historically underserved communities are less able to prepare and recover from extreme weather events driven by climate change, including excessive heat, flooding and air pollution, the report released Thursday said.

Outlining six specific impacts of climate change, including poor health outcomes, EPA researchers found Black people are more likely to face higher risks to all six impacts defined in the report. The study was released days after the Department of Health and Human Services announced it is establishing the Office of Climate Change and Health Equity.

Public health experts already know communities of color are often more likely to experience childhood asthma and live in places that exacerbate it. That risk increases in Black people from 34% to 41% more likely as climate warms, according to the report, which analyzed projected risks.

Black people are also 40% more likely to live in areas with deaths related to extreme weather temperatures. As the temperature of the planet increases, that risk rises to 59%.

The report also highlights certain risks to Hispanic and Latino people, overrepresented in construction and agriculture jobs. As the climate warms, they are 43% more likely to live in areas with hours on the job cut due to extreme temperatures.

They are also 50% more likely to live in areas prone to coastal flooding, according to the report, which analyzed populations by income, education, race, ethnicity and age to determine social vulnerability.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Nada Hassanein