#trending

From The Grio — Earth Day turns 40 this year, but many African-Americans have never seen environmentalism as a priority until recently. With Van Jones and Majora Carter becoming household names, green is now the new black. Here is a list of 10 environmental justice issues affecting the black community that should be given full attention by all Americans.

1. Air pollution

Air pollution is a serious problem in communities of color, as poor air quality can contribute to a host of health problems.

Smog contributes to outdoor air pollution which has become a serious problem in urban communities of color. According to a 2002 Environmental Protection Agency report, 71 percent of African Americans live in counties that violate federal air pollution standards, compared to 58 percent of the white population. Breathing in too much bad air can not only result in higher blood lead levels and eye problems, but also asthma, which is triggered by high quantities of particulate matter. Blacks are three times more likely to die from asthma related problems than whites. Also, poor air quality increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and other serious respiratory problems.

2. Industrial Sites and Illegal Waste Dumping

Most communities of color live near power plants, oil refineries or waste management facilities. Industrial waste that is not disposed of appropriately (or legally) can get into the water system and land used for housing and agriculture.

Most communities of color live near power plants, oil refineries and waste management facilities. As a matter of fact, according to the report Air of Injustice: African Americans and Power Plant Pollution, 68 percent of blacks live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, as compared to 56 percent of whites. — the distance within which the maximum effects of the smokestack plume are expected to occur. Industrial waste that is not disposed of appropriately (or legally) can get into the water system and land used for housing and agriculture. Improper waste dumping creates a host of health problems, ranging from asthma to lung cancer.

3. Mercury Exposure

Fish is an important source of animal proteins and other nutrients, but it can also contain a high percentage of mercury emissions generally from incinerators, coal-burning power plants and other industrial sites, which can have a devastating effect on people of color.

Fish is an important source of animal proteins and other nutrients, but it can also contain a high percentage of mercury emissions generally from incinerators, coal-burning power plants and other industrial sites located near water resources. Over one third of all mercury pollution in the country come from these sites. Since people of color are more likely to live near industrial sites and eat more fish than whites, they are more likely to have higher levels of mercury exposure. Mercury consumption can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), learning disabilities in children and other respiratory problems.

4. Water Safety

Water is considered a fundamental human right, but many communities of color lack safe drinking water, swim near waste-contaminated beaches and live near polluted flood waters.

Access to clean, safe water is considered a fundamental human right essential for a healthy populace and environment. However, many communities of color lack safe drinking water, swim near waste-contaminated beaches and live near polluted flood waters. In addition, larger numbers of communities of color live in urban areas, where city water systems are more likely to be fluoridated than in suburban and rural water systems. Studies show that fluoridation chemicals cause increased blood lead levels, premature births, learning disabilities and tooth discoloration in children. Poor water quality is also attributed to higher rates of complications related to kidney failure and diabetes among blacks.

5. Transit Justice

Public transit is used at a higher rate by more people of color and low income communities than whites. While there are environmental and economic benefits to public transit, there have been complaints made by transit justice activists in cities around the country recently about fare hikes, service cuts and lack of responsiveness to customer complaints.

Public transit is used at a higher rate by more people of color and low income communities than whites. While there are many environmental and economic benefits to taking buses and trains, recent urban policies around the country have made life more difficult for those who depend on public transport to get around. There have been complaints made by transit justice activists in cities around the country about fare hikes, service cuts and lack of responsiveness to customer complaints. In addition, many public transit systems still use diesel vehicles, which emit carbon particulate matter and nitrogen oxides that develop into smog and contribute to asthma and other health problems. (Continue Reading Article @ The Grio…)

Photo Source: AP Photo/Mark Stahl

Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter
  • caramelgirl

    This is an eye opening article. The question should be raised, “What needs to be done to the black communities to make the environment healthier?”

  • Benny

    IIn addition to the article, t really saddens me when I drive in those neighborhoods and look at the children outside in that kind of environment. While the neighborhoods deteriorating and the schools are overcrowded, What is our elected officials doing?