Pollution has lower impact on poorer areas?

Expected mortality from industrial air pollution is highest in the top income brackets, according to the results of a recent World Bank study on pollution from different sized industrial plants.

The great majority of these projected deaths are attributable to emissions from large plants. This, despite the greater emission intensity of smaller plants and the prevalence of smaller plants in lower income areas, concludes the study “Small Plants, Pollution and Poverty: New Evidence from Brazil and Mexico” by Susmita Dasgupta, Robert E.B. Lucas, and David Wheeler.

The study found that smaller plants produced more pollution by employee than larger plants, and that higher income areas tended to contain larger plants in cleaner industries and vice versa. Nonetheless, the sheer scale of emissions from larger plants, coupled with higher population and industry densities in more economically developed areas, puts the inhabitants at greater risk, say the authors. The conclusions are based on total theoretical exposure to emissions without taking account of how different income levels impact on actual exposure to pollutants.

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