Racism in the air – the human toll of air pollution in Michigan

You do not want to miss this excellent article, published yesterday in Medical Daily.  It shows the human toll of air pollution in minority communities in Michigan, the failure of regulatory agencies to protect the public, and much more.

How can we allow this to happen to our fellow human beings?


A sneak peak….

“Jacqueline Cason didn’t expect to be crawling down the stairs of her own damn house at 38 years old. When Cason lived in Mississippi, her asthma was annoying but manageable—a puff from an inhaler now and again. Then, just over a year ago, she moved into a little modular home on a quiet street in River Rouge, Michigan, a tiny city of 7,000 that kisses the southern edge of Detroit. Now she’s awakened in the morning, three days a week, at least, and sometimes seven, by an asthma attack. She gasps, desperately sipping the air but inhaling little or none. “It’s like being a fish out of water,” she says

It’s dirty in River Rouge, and everybody here knows it. The way the air smells, and the gas flares, coal piles and smokestacks around every corner don’t let you forget. There are 52 sites of heavy industry within a 3-mile radius; 22 of these either produce over 25,000 pounds or handle more than 10,000 pounds of toxic chemical waste, putting them on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory Program. For years, the area has also been “out of compliance” for sulfur dioxide, meaning there’s more SO 2—a known contributor to asthma—in the air than federal rules allow.”

In America, race is the single biggest factor in determining whether you live near a toxic waste site. In mostly white states, it’ll be the black or Latino neighborhoods that get the oil refineries or garbage incinerators. In and around Detroit, that’s true to an almost ridiculous degree. In 2011, Paul Mohai, a professor and the founder of the environmental justice program at the University of Michigan, mapped Detroit’s public schools over air pollution data. He found 82 percent of black students went to schools in the most polluted parts of the city, while 44 percent of white students did. What’s more, children in those pollution-exposed schools scored lower on standardized tests. Air pollution has already been shown to cause cognitive delays in children and an array of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as early birth and low birth weight, which can also impair a child’s brain development down the road. Of course, having severe chronic asthma and the sleep apnea that often comes with it probably doesn’t help student scores either.”

Michigan’s Air Pollution Problem Is Much Bigger Than The Water In Flint, Medical Daily