April 17, 2024

Hello, Memo readers!

Degrading air quality is a growing concern in the U.S., especially as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of wildfires.

Remember last summer, when people in New York, Washington, and Chicago awoke to plumes of orange smoke blanketing their skies from the drift of Canadian wildfires? Those apocalyptic scenes were something Americans on the West Coast have observed for far longer. And people whose jobs are in outdoor settings bore the brunt of the poor air quality — mostly those in blue-collar industries (like construction) and gig workers (like dog walkers or delivery drivers).

In 2024 alone, a quarter of the U.S. population will be exposed to air deemed unhealthy by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a new analysis from environmental research group First Street. Those impacts are expected to grow, and about half of all Americans will be exposed to “Red Days,” or days of unhealthy air quality, in the 2050s.

That increase in pollution will cost both companies and their employees dearly — with hundreds of billions of dollars of pay lost annually across the workforce if unmitigated. We quantified the exact cost of all that bad air.

Charted: Black investors always had to risk more for less

Image for article titled There’s no clearing the air

Graphic: Quartz

On the eve of Black History Month, the Financial Education Foundation, an extension of the watchdog Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, released a report analyzing the demographics, habits, and assumptions of investors of color — Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American/Pacific Islander — as well as white investors.

Looking at the numbers for the Black investors, the top notes go like this: They’re younger, they have less experience in the market, and arrive at their financial decisions in different ways than their older, whiter peers… and, of course, there are many reasons why this racial wealth gap still exists.

More from Quartz

⚡️ Porsche’s electric rival to Tesla has lost up to $100,000 in value

🛌 A BP exec’s husband eavesdropped and made almost $2 million on insider trading

🧠 Elon Musk’s Neuralink is starting to freak doctors out

💉 There might be a weight loss drug competitor to Ozempic — and the company’s stock is soaring

🍩 A Starbucks and Dunkin’ competitor is catching up fast

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Send questions, comments, and Dyson air purifying headphones to talk@qz.com. This edition of The Memo was written by Melvin Backman, Laura Bratton, and Morgan Haefner.

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