All Articles Tagged "pollution"
Caring about everyday issues like pollution, contaminated water and the environment seem fairly new, insignificant, and sometimes unimportant in the Black community overall, but it’s making more of an impact on this community than any other.
Recent studies and statistics from the Center for American Progress conclude that many physical ailments in the African-American community, like asthma, diabetes and lung cancer, are due to air and trash pollution and power plants, and the rates of those illnesses are very disproportionate compared to other communities.
The Center for American Progress reported that for many people of color, including Hispanic Americans, air pollution is an “unavoidable feature of daily life because they are more likely to live and work in the nation’s most polluted cities.” In a study conducted nationally, only 56 percent of the white population lives within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant, plants which lead to related illnesses like asthma and lung disease. This was compared to a dramatic 68 percent of African-Americans.
In addition, Hispanics and African-Americans are more likely to reside near facilities that contain wastes that are harmful and full of pollutants: “Arsenic (used commercially as a rat poison) and lead are among the toxic chemicals that may be concentrated at these sites.”
Accessibility to medical care and health insurance also plays a role in this disparity. According to the research:
“Existing health disparities and high uninsured rates among communities of color compound these health consequences. Racial and ethnic minorities make up a majority of the 50 million Americans who are uninsured, despite constituting only about one-third of the U.S. population. These high uninsured rates mean that the very same populations imperiled by environmental toxins may be unable to obtain necessary medical care.”
Although these statistics look grim, small changes in the community are all we need to start taking care of this issue head on. Although new EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rules will help these communities breathe easier, making your home more green and environmentally-friendly could make the real difference in your family’s overall health. They might not get rid of all the pollution and dangers outside, but caring more about the environment, starting within your own home, could do wonders for your health, save you money and a lot more. Start with these three simple steps that could have a major positive impact, if you haven’t already started:
Recycle: Recycling old cardboard, glass, cans, paper and plastic are very easy and safer for your community than just throwing everything away in the same trash. Use recyclable bins or plastic bags to gather up these materials. You could even make this task into a chore that is family friendly, labeling bins for each material to keep them separate.
Use Energy Wisely: Power plants thrive off the amount of energy we use, so turn off (and unplug) energy-draining appliances like your phone charger when it’s not in use. You’d be surprised how many appliances are always plugged into outlets and aren’t connected to a product, but still are sucking up electricity. This is making your bill higher and wasting currency.
Be H2O Friendly: Encourage your family to turn off water when not in-use during forgettable moments like taking a shower, brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. If you are not directly using it, turn it off for the moment.
Enthusiasm over going green should not be labeled to one group of people because it impacts us all, most of all, people of color. We must change the way we see our ways of living, which are embedded within our culture, and allow those rituals to change with the times, for our health’s sake. Caring for our environment and community of color is one big step towards ensuring our health and longevity.
How do you care for the environment?
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By Charlotte Young
When Lisa Jackson, the Environmental Protection Agency administrator learned that President Barack Obama had rejected her major proposal for stricter air-pollution regulations, she was very upset. So upset, the New York Post reports, that she almost quit her job.
According to the Post, Jackson had been confident that Obama planned to support her proposal, regardless of the persistent Republican lobbyists and business interests that rallied against it. Turns out she was wrong. On Sept. 1, after meeting with Chief of Staff Bill Daley and then with Obama, she realized her plan would have to wait.
Obama firmly rejected her proposal, which would have limited the amount of ozone that is released into the air. An administrative source disclosed that Obama informed Jackson that “we just don’t need this fight right now.”
With the US in the midst of a weak economy and incessantly low employment numbers, Obama believed that making her changes to the Clean Air Act would be too troublesome and costly for businesses and local governments who would have to monitor and contain air pollution.
Longtime friend of Jackson and senior Sierra Club official, Jeff Tittel, told the Post that Jackson, “felt like she got hit with a hot poker between the eyes.”
“Lisa was blindsided,” he said. “She was pretty pissed off.”
Jackson reportedly then spent two days contemplating whether or not to quit her job. But after traveling with Obama to view hurricane damage on Sept. 4, she had calmed down and decided to stay on board the Obama administration.
“She’s not the kind of person who goes home and takes her marbles.” Tittel said. “She’s the kind who would stay and fight even if she is frustrated.”
Jackson is the first African American to serve as the head of the EPA. Not only has she pushed for added ozone regulations, in her role she has made sure to reach out to communities that have been historically under-represented in environmental issues. Under her leadership the EPA has increased its protection of vulnerable groups, which include children, the elderly and low-income residents, that are often faced with environmental and health concerns that go unnoticed.
The White House plans to review the proposal on emissions again in 2012. Brendon Gilfillan, a spokesman from the EPA told the Post that Jackson isn’t going anywhere. “This administration has a tremendous record on the environment and a lot more work left to do,” he said.
(News One) — In 1962, when New York city planners first proposed a sewage treatment plant for the residents and businesses of Manhattan’s West Side, they picked a spot on the Hudson River around 72nd Street. The neighborhood, however, was well on its way to becoming what it is today — the white, upper middle class district of stylish brownstones, grand co-ops and newfangled condominiums known to most Americans as the backdrop for the TV sitcom, Seinfeld. Neighborhood resistance to the plant forced the city to select an alternate location. The plant site was then moved up the Hudson River to a plot between 137th and 145th Streets in the Black neighborhood of Harlem. It was just another story in a long-standing American narrative of environmental injustice against communities of color; white politicians and planners shifting the noxious, the unpleasant, and the dirty public and private works of our cities onto neighborhoods with minimal political influence.
(Time) — Americans quaff nearly 10 billion gallons of bottled water each year, in large part because they assume, wrongly, that it’s healthier and safer than tap water. Somewhat surprisingly, the data has suggested, underserved black and Latino families tend to spend more money than whites do on bottled water, and provide it exclusively for their kids. While previous research has shown that minorities use bottled water more often than whites, the question has always been, why? A new study in the Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine aimed to find out, by surveying 632 parents, 32% of whom were Latino, 33% African American, and 35% white.
(Wall Street Journal) — Royal Dutch Shell PLC will this month be grilled by Dutch lawmakers for the first time over its operations in the Niger Delta, reflecting growing concern in the West about oil spills in west Africa. Critics of Shell’s record, both in parliament and among non-governmental organizations, are expected to use parliamentary hearings, scheduled for Jan. 26, to quiz the company over its activities in Nigeria. The country’s oil sector has long been plagued by militant violence, corruption, organized crime and, by extension, environmental damage.
(AJC) — An environmental group that tested drinking water in the city of Atlanta found it contains hexavalent chromium, a chemical that the National Institutes of Health has described as a “probable carcinogen.” The Washington-based Environmental Working Group said in a study released Monday that the level of the chemical in Atlanta’s water ranks 13th-highest among water systems it tested last spring in 35 U.S cities.
(San Jose Mercury News) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency spent Saturday in Oakland, visiting seven sites including the notorious AMCO SuperFund site in West Oakland — considered one of the most toxic in the nation — and learning about a residential lead cleanup program set to begin in surrounding neighborhoods.”This SuperFund site is in a community of people who care enough about the environment and about other communities that they don’t want contaminated soil excavated and just taken to another SuperFund site in another community of color,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson during a news conference at Oakland’s federal building after the daylong tour.
(Chicago Tribune) — Illinois is failing to crack down on water pollution from large confined-animal farms, the Obama administration announced Wednesday in a stinging rebuke that gave the state a month to figure out how to fix its troubled permitting and enforcement programs.
Responding to a petition from environmental groups, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said its nearly yearlong investigation found widespread problems with the Illinois EPA’s oversight of confined-animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. Many of the cattle, hog and chicken operations produce manure in amounts comparable to the waste generated by small towns.