Blacks More Likely To Live in Areas With Pollution-Related Health Risks
Black U.S. residents are nearly 80% more likely than white U.S. residents to live in areas where industrial pollution could pose the highest health risks, according to an Associated Press analysis of government data, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.
According to the AP/Chronicle, researchers in the last two decades have found that even short-term exposure to air pollution is linked to diseases such as asthma, bronchitis and cancer and can worsen conditions such as lung and heart disease. Long-term exposure increases those risks.
Using data from 2000 from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Census Bureau, the Associated Press assigned health risk scores to cities based on factors such as the amount of toxic pollution and level of danger posed by the chemicals being released from factories. The Associated Press used the scores to compare risks between neighborhoods and to examine the racial and economic status of affected residents.
The analysis shows that lower-income communities generally are located near industrial factories that release chemicals that contribute to air pollution, and in 19 states, blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to live in neighborhoods where air pollution poses the highest threat to health. Counties that had the highest health risk from industrial air pollution in 2000 included Washington County, Ohio; Whiteside County, Ill.; and Leflore County, Miss., the analysis finds.
"Poor communities, frequently communities of color but not exclusively, suffer disproportionately," Carol Browner, who headed EPA during the Clinton administration, said, adding, "If you look at where our industrialized facilities tend to be located, they're not in the upper middle class neighborhoods."
Deputy EPA Administrator Marcus Peacock said, "We're going to get at these folks to make sure that they are going to be breathing clean air, and that's regardless of their race, creed or color" (Pace, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/14).