The Social Justice Aspect: According to the CDC, heat-related deaths occurred most frequently in urban areas and the three states with the highest-burden, Arizona, Texas, and California accounted for 43% of all heat-related deaths. And as CNBC explained, in the U.S., where heat kills more people than any other weather event, Black and Latino people are more likely to reside in hot areas.
These communities that are already vulnerable to extreme heat also subject to higher levels of air pollution than that wealthier and whiter neighborhoods. This is especially troubling as the authors of the study found that asphalt in California’s South Coast Air Basin emitted more secondary organic aerosols in the summer than gas and diesel motor vehicles combined. While it’s still unclear how emissions from asphalt might be compounding the pollution low-income neighborhoods are subjected to, it’s one more reason to look at how cities can turn to alternatives to pavement and depavement for roads that they don’t have the money to fix.