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Environmental Segregation Explained

55 years ago, The Civil Rights Act of 1964 killed off any law that had to do with segregation. However, per certain studies, this act didn’t quite pass in the environment. There have been various reports of people living in predominantly African-American communities having lower air quality in comparison to those communities that are predominately Caucasian. The astounding number of reports has led researchers to consider this devastating claim and come back with some astonishing numbers. It is said that in African-American communities there is a 54% higher chance that they will be negatively impacted by air pollution, non-white communities had a 28% chance and those living underneath the poverty line had a 35% chance.

These numbers are incredibly high and are possibly deadly to these people who are affected. This pollution can lead to asthma, premature death, heart diseases, and lung diseases. Unfortunately, this seems like a pattern almost everywhere in the USA because these people are ensured a home to live in that is usually downwind of a dirty industrial plant, a landfill, or even a truck depot. Studies state that because of this placement of African-American communities, half of the nine-million people who live near hazardous waste sites are African-American. In comparison to Caucasians, the African-Americans that live near these sites are three times more likely to die from air pollution. 

Now these results and studies didn’t happen overnight, these statistics have been harvested from years of African-Americans having to live in these inhumane environments. Instead of trying to help these people and their air quality, they’re given false promises and more pollution instead. In Louisiana, there is an area called “Cancer Alley” that is an area near the Mississippi River than hosts dozens of industrial facilities which were stationed there in hopes to bring “more jobs to the people”. Instead of accomplishing this promise, what the plants have done is secure the amount of cancer patients in this area; so much so that this area has some of the highest rates of cancer in the country. In California, studies have shown that Latinos and African-Americans breathe in 40 percent more pollution than Caucasians. In Chicago, there are neighborhoods that have been trying to make a case that they are being harmed more than other neighborhoods and they’re not being listened to. These communities being negatively impacted are the poorer Southside communities.

Instead of trying to help the situation at hand and end this environmental discrimination, the government has decided to cut back funding on the Clear Air Act and the Clean Power Plan. The government has decided that it’d be a good idea to roll-back 26 environmental rules that helped reduce the air pollution from the 1970’s to now by 70%. Some of these new rules include but are not limited to: dropping guidelines intended to help the states meet ozone standards, leaving methane leaks to be unrepaired during emergency shutdowns at oil and gas facilities, and the list goes on and on. If interested in helping the communities affected, there will be links down below with petitions to sign.





Angely is a Biology major on a Pre-Med track, she is hoping to be either a Neurologist or Oncologist in the future. She has a high interest in the Environmental Sciences and hopes to get her Master's degree and Ph.D in Environmental Sciences in order to do research on coral reefs. She is a volunteer at Nicklaus Children's Hospital and Co-Fundraising chair for Tri Beta.
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