Jul 9, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Black and Hispanic communities trust their tap water less

Reproduced from Morning Consult; Note: ±2% margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Morning Consult; Note: ±2% margin of error; Chart: Axios Visuals

Black and Hispanic communities are less likely than white communities to trust the safety of their tap water, according to Morning Consult survey data out this week.

Why it matters: There's now a greater understanding of the links between the environment and health — and the role systemic racism has played in the distribution of pollution across communities of color.

  • "These environmental inequalities aren't the result of any one action, but rather the layering of local, state and federal policies that segregated communities and incentivized white people to leave urban centers," writes Morning Consult reporter Lisa Martine Jenkins.

By the numbers: Among all adults, 42% reported high levels of concern about local pollution's impact on their health.

  • That number jumps to 61% among Hispanic respondents.
  • 56% of Black adults are extremely or very concerned.

When it comes to tap water, the disparity is even more striking. A poll found a 22-point gap between white and Black respondents on trusting the quality of their tap water.

  • Just 53% of Hispanic respondents said they trust their tap water.
  • Black respondents were twice as likely as white ones to say they don't trust their water but drink it anyway.
  • Meanwhile, 38% of Black adults and 33% of Hispanics purchase water separately, compared to 27% of white people.

The big picture: The water-quality controversies in cities like Flint and Newark have led to a larger distrust of the government's handling of local environmental issues plus a deep skepticism of a community's infrastructure.

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