Residents in better-off areas are also breathing easier: PM2.5 emissions fell a median of nearly 0.7 kilograms per year in those census tracts, four times the median reduction in disadvantaged communities. Researchers found that PM2.5 pollution actually rose in 17% of disadvantaged areas, which are home to 39% of California’s fossil fuel power plants. Those communities also experienced smaller reductions in other air pollutants in contrast to wealthier areas, according to the analysis of 8,057 census tracts in California.
“These communities receive far fewer rebates and therefore see substantially less air quality improvement as a result of decreased tailpipe emissions,” said Jaye Mejía-Duwan, the study’s lead author and a PhD student in UC Berkeley’s environmental science, policy and management program. Mejía-Duwan said low-income neighborhoods often bear the brunt of increased power plant pollution that results from charging EVs located in distant wealthier areas.