Environmental Justice

Race is the biggest indicator in the US of whether you live near toxic waste

Credit: AP Photo/Gerry Broome

NEW YORK, NY — “Go looking for the local landfill or toxic waste treatment facility in any US county with a mostly white population, and you’ll likely find it in the black or Latino neighborhoods. That’s because in the US, your race is the single biggest factor that determines whether you live near a hazardous waste facility.

In 2016, a study published in Environmental Research Letters found ‘a consistent pattern over a 30-year period of placing hazardous waste facilities in neighborhoods where poor people and people of color live.’

…The paper followed decades of reports finding much the same: As reported by The Nation, in 1983 the Government Accountability Office found that black people made up the majority of communities near landfills, and a 2007 report, authored by a group of university-affiliated experts in environmental policy and published by the United Church of Christ, found that things had actually gotten worse since the 80s: ‘[M]any of our communities not only face the same problems they did back then, but now they face new ones because of government cutbacks in enforcement, weakening health protection, and dismantling the environmental justice regulatory apparatus.'”

— Zoë Schlanger, Quartz

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