Though #BlackLivesMatter focuses on police racism and brutality, and that is where our attention needs to be, recent events bring to mind research in my chosen profession (Environmental Toxicology) clearly showing that pollution disproportionately kills African Americans
The evidence isn’t hard to follow…
There exist stark racial inequities in exposure to environmental pollution in the USA
- “Urban air pollution and health inequities: a workshop report. American Lung Association” https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/abs/10.1289/ehp.109-1240553
- “Socioeconomic and Racial Disparities in Cancer Risk from Air Toxics in Maryland” https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/ehp.7609
- “Making the Environmental Justice Grade: The Relative Burden of Air Pollution Exposure in the United States” https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/8/6/1755
- “Inequity in consumption of goods and services adds to racial–ethnic disparities in air pollution exposure” https://www.pnas.org/content/116/13/6001
Exposure to environmental pollution impairs health, e.g., cardiovascular & respiratory illness, diabetes, and birth defects.
- “The Health Effects of Ambient PM2.5 and Potential Mechanisms” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014765131630029X?via%3Dihub
- “Clearing the Air: A Review of the Effects of Particulate Matter Air Pollution on Human Health” https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13181-011-0203-1
African Americans suffer significantly more from cardiovascular & respiratory illness, diabetes, etc. than other ethnic groups in the USA.
- American Heart Association: “African Americans and Heart Disease, Stroke” https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/consumer-healthcare/what-is-cardiovascular-disease/african-americans-and-heart-disease-stroke
- “Children’s Environmental Health Disparities: Black and African American Children and Asthma” https://www.epa.gov/children/childrens-environmental-health-disparities-black-and-african-american-children-and-asthma
- American Lung Association: “Too Many Cases, Too Many Deaths: Lung Cancer in African Americans” https://www.lung.org/research/trends-in-lung-disease/lung-health-disparities/lung-cancer-in-african-americans
Of relevance to other contemporary crises, these health disparities help explain why African Americans have increased risk of death from COVID-19
- “COVID-19 and African Americans” https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2764789
As argued by many, Environmental Justice and Social Justice are indeed intrinsically interconnected.
By working to tackle environmental pollution, we can relieve the pressure of yet another knee that has been pressing on the necks of African Americans for generations.