Environmental justice and air

Room full of people listening to a speaker at a community meeting.The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency strives to ensure pollution does not have a disproportionate impact on any group of people. This principle, often referred to as environmental justice, also compels the agency to actively seek the involvement of lower-income residents and communities of color in decisions and actions that affect their communities.

Environmental justice concerns are multiple and complex. Not only do some communities experience higher levels of pollution, but these same communities may not have the same amenities, resources, and conditions to support healthy living. Everyone’s health is influenced by individual choices such as eating well and staying active and also by the social conditions in which they live: whether they have access to social and economic opportunities, quality schooling, safe neighborhoods, a clean environment, and more. Some people have better access to the conditions that help people live healthy lives. One of the challenges of this work is to understand different levels of air pollution exposure in the context of inequitable social conditions that contribute to health disparities.

There is much still to learn about the interaction between air pollution and health inequities and the disparities they produce. The MPCA is therefore increasing its efforts to better understand these complex issues and to actively promote environmental justice in Minnesota.

Addressing environmental injustice from an equity perspective requires the MPCA not only work to decrease disproportionate air pollution exposures and to increase opportunities for all Minnesotans to meaningfully participate in environmental decisions, but also to access the conditions that provide for a healthy life. The MPCA is working with a variety of community stakeholders and state, local, and national government partners to achieve environmental justice and advance health equity.

Find out more about the MPCA's environmental justice efforts.