People with lower economic status are exposed to different environmental surroundings that may be hazardous to their health.
Cities surrounding the Interstate 710 freeway in Los Angeles are some of the most polluted cities in the nation with over a million residents who are low income minorities.
Among the cities surrounding the I-710 lie the cities of Bell, Cudahy and Maywood, which are the most populated cities in Los Angeles County. These cities are also primarily made up of low-income Latino communities.
There are about 2,000 deaths in the Los Angeles area as a result of high diesel emissions.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) states that people below the poverty line as well as people of racial diversity are more likely to inhabit areas that have higher rates of pollution.
Because of this, an environmental justice movement has been fighting for change over the past few decades. The goal of this movement is to gain fair treatment for all people regardless of race or income, as stated by the Environmental Protection Academy (EPA).
The communities where facilities such as landfills and dirty industrial plants are placed are areas where African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans reside.
NRDC states it all began in 1982, when the city council in Warren County, N.C., decided to place 6,000 truck loads of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) right outside a poor black community.
The EPA states that PCBs are a man-made chemical used for electronic equipment, motor oil, fluorescent lights, oil-based paint and many other substances and objects. If not disposed properly, or in areas not meant to sustain this chemical, PCBs leak and circulate in the environment for many years causing problems to the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems, which results in cancer.
After North Carolina residents protested, a worldwide movement was launched. People all over the world confessed that it was a problem they also faced in their countries as well.
Although throughout the years the environmental inequities have been exposed, some progress has been made. However, the progress hasn’t been good enough to completely prevent the circumstances residents are subjected to.
Originally published on coyotechronicle.net (August 15, 2014)