Social Justice and the Air

In some of my other posts, I began to elaborate on pollution in minority and low-income areas. This Scientific American article  really brings light onto how racial segregation and economic class play an effect in regard to the amount of pollutants that a community will be exposed to.

The trend is mostly seen in large cities. Cities like Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Pittsburg, St. Louis and Fresno are among the metropolitan areas with raised levels of airborne pollutants and large concentrations of poor minorities. The article very closely parallels what I’ve been speaking about in previous posts. Low income and minority communities especially are being targeted by big corporations that emit toxins from their production. The trend was described like this:

 “Due to high housing costs and historical discrimination, low-income and minority neighborhoods are clustered around industrial sites, truck routes, ports and other air pollution hotspots.”

In cities that are more segregated, you see higher pollution burdens for residents of color. For example, in the South Bronx, a largely Hispanic and African-American area, one out of 10 people live in poverty. Additionally, heavy traffic and small industries

Los Angeles, CA (I've actually seen this view for myself.)
Los Angeles, CA
(I’ve actually seen this view for myself.)

taint the air with a load of fine particles that frequently exceeds the federal health limit. Asthma rates are as much as four times higher in this area compared with other areas in the nation. According to American Lung Association’s Dr. Norman Edelman, he describes the reason for this as,  “They live near highways, they live near where trucks spew diesel. That’s the least desirable housing… much different than a nice, leafy suburb.”

To further complicate this situation, the known effects of most of the polluting substances (like nitrate, zinc, nickel, carbon, selenium, silicon, etc.) are unknown. Earlier this year, the EPA proposed new health standards for the emission of these potentially toxic substances in some cities. However, they cannot set individual limits for them because so little is for sure known about them. Therefore, leaving the people in these areas in the same toxic conditions, in the same economic condition, with little room to remove themselves from this extreme social injustice.

(If you were confused as to why this wasn’t about Monsanto, read my earlier articles, especially my analysis post. The focus is shifting off only Monsanto, but on corporations and social, environmental, and food justice.


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