Health Effects of Environmental Injustice

Environmental Injustice is so important because it is drastically affecting the health of millions of people, especially young children.

Asthma:  From 1980 to 1994, asthma rates have increased by 74 percent for children of color between the ages 5 and 17 years old.[1] More specifically, rates of those with asthma are much higher in low income areas, especially those of color.[2]  In 1997 7.8 percent of white children had asthma, while 20 percent of African American children had asthma.[3] The correlation between air pollution and asthma is proven by many various studies.[4] Therefore minority groups are more likely to develop asthma because they live in areas where air pollution levels are dangerously high.

asthma

Children are Most Susceptible to Air Pollution. Photo credit           http://www.blackhealthzone.com/asthma

Cancer:  St. Gabriel Louisiana, a small town composed of primarily African Americans, hosts more than 136 industrial facilities.[5] According to a Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) performed in 2000,  St. Gabriel’s air was 50 percent more toxic than the national average.  In 1994, a company called Condea Vista, reported that it had spilled 129,500 pounds of chemicals, which leaked into major waterways. [6] St. Gabriel is now known as “Cancer Alley”, because as a result of excess air and water pollution, there are 15 cancer victims on a two block street.[7] There has been a steady increase of cancer cases since 1987, when a majority of hazardous waste sites were implemented. Moreover, Louisiana has the second highest death rate from cancer.[8] The national average is 206 deaths per every 100,000.[9] In Louisiana it is 237.5 deaths per every 100,000.[10] Overall the more exposed an individual is to both air and water pollution, the more at risk they are to develop cancer. [11]

cncer all

“Cancer Alley”, Louisiana. Photo credit http://www.treehugger.com/corporate-responsibility/cancer-alley-big-industry-bigger-illness-along-mississippi-river.html

Birth Defects: Many areas located near concentrated industrial waste sites, including St. Gabriel and Kettleman City, have exhibited increased percentages of babies born with birth defects.[12] A study performed by Helen Dolk of Oxford Journals titled, The Impact of Environmental Pollution on Congenital Anomalies, has found that a pregnant woman’s exposure to high levels of chemicals, in the form of water pollution and air pollution, can cause birth defects including low birth-weight, premature birth, intrauterine growth retardation, and other neurodevelopmental effects.[13]

Mothers in Kettleman City Show Pictures of their Babies Born with Birth Defects, as a result of Local Industrial Sites

Mothers in Kettleman City Show Pictures of their Babies Born with Birth Defects, a result of Local Industrial Sites Photo credit: http://www.greenaction.org/wp-content/uploads/EasyRotatorStorage/user-content/erc_57_1343800069/content/content.html

 

 

 

[1] David Pellow and Robert Brulle. Power, Justice, and the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement. (University of Michigan: MIT Press, 2005), 188.

[2] David Pellow and Robert Brulle. Power, Justice, and the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement. (University of Michigan: MIT Press, 2005), 188.

[3] David Pellow and Robert Brulle. Power, Justice, and the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement. (University of Michigan: MIT Press, 2005), 188.

[4] David Pellow and Robert Brulle. Power, Justice, and the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement. (University of Michigan: MIT Press, 2005), 190.

[5] “Cancer Alley, Louisiana”, JRank, accessed on December 2nd 2014, http://www.pollutionissues.com/Br-Co/Cancer-Alley-Louisiana.html

[6] “Cancer Alley, Louisiana”, JRank, accessed on December 2nd 2014, http://www.pollutionissues.com/Br-Co/Cancer-Alley-Louisiana.html

[7] “Cancer Alley, Louisiana”, JRank, accessed on December 2nd 2014, http://www.pollutionissues.com/Br-Co/Cancer-Alley-Louisiana.html

[8] “Cancer Alley, Louisiana”, JRank, accessed on December 2nd 2014, http://www.pollutionissues.com/Br-Co/Cancer-Alley-Louisiana.html

[9] “Cancer Alley, Louisiana”, JRank, accessed on December 2nd 2014, http://www.pollutionissues.com/Br-Co/Cancer-Alley-Louisiana.html

[10] “Cancer Alley, Louisiana”, JRank, accessed on December 2nd 2014, http://www.pollutionissues.com/Br-Co/Cancer-Alley-Louisiana.html

[11] “About Air Toxins”, US Environmental Protection Agency, accessed on December 3rd 2014, http://www.epa.gov/oar/toxicair/newtoxics.html

[12] “The Impact of Environmental Pollution on Congenital Anomalies”, Oxford Journals, accessed on December 3rd, 2014, http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/25.full

[13] “The Impact of Environmental Pollution on Congenital Anomalies”, Oxford Journals, accessed on December 3rd, 2014, http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/25.full