Injustice occurs in many ways and involves not only cases of injustice and racism we witness through the media, such as police brutality and racism in workplaces.
Unfortunately, race can also play a role in exposure to environmental dangers and land use within a community. According to the Center for American Progress, negligence and failing infrastructure have impacted communities of color for decades. Environmental racism history contains countless examples of the government or large corporations failing to protect our most vulnerable communities.
Yet, legal action presents an opportunity to address the root causes of environmental racism. Through lawsuits, environmental justice lawyers can highlight the presence of policy failures that unfairly affect those without a voice.
Causes of Environmental Racism
Causes of environmental racism relate to the availability of affordable land, lack of political power to fight corporations, and poverty, among others. Corporations, as well as the government, look for cheap land to establish hazardous waste sites or to dump toxic chemicals.
Therefore, low-income communities are generally disproportionately affected by environmental hazards of many different kinds.
Minority communities may not efficiently oppose any proposed controversial development and environmental dangers, as they may lack the resources and political power to do so. This can have tragic health consequences for entire communities.
Examples of Environmental Racism
Environmental racism can impact minority communities in many different ways. Some examples of racial inequality due to environmental hazards are:
According to Environmental Health, water contamination disproportionately affects low-income communities of color. Some minority communities lack piped water and must rely on wells or shared water systems that may supply them with contaminated water.
Contaminated water can deplete a community’s health, causing illnesses from waterborne diseases to cancer, as well as others. Water issues are at the forefront of issues of injustice, as evidenced by Flint, Michigan, an important environmental racism case study.
Water contamination issues can have serious long-term consequences. Another recent example is the events surrounding Camp Lejeune, a military base in North Carolina.
Between August 1953 and December 1987, Camp Lejeune’s water supply was contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals. These chemicals are known to cause:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cancers of the bladder, esophagus, kidneys, and liver
- Multiple myeloma
- Female infertility
- Birth defects, such as cleft palettes
- Neurobehavioral complications
Addressing this issue necessitated government intervention. To allow the victims of Camp Lejeune to pursue compensation, the U.S. government is working to pass the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021. This act will allow plaintiffs to file lawsuits against the government. Without this act, victims could not sue the government, and they could only pursue benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Higher Rates of Air Pollution
According to a study published by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, the white participants in the study generally had the lowest exposure to airborne particulate matter. Hispanic participants suffered from the highest rates of pollution, followed by African American participants.
High air pollution contributes to many diseases, as well as deaths from lung cancer, respiratory infections, strokes, pulmonary disease, and others, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Children of color are more likely to suffer from lead poisoning. The blood levels of lead in non-Hispanic Black children are almost double those found in white children, according to the Public Health Post.
Lead poisoning can cause many health conditions and medical problems, including anemia, weakness, kidney damage, and brain damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Extremely high lead exposure can cause death.
Exposure to Hazardous Waste and Industrial Facilities
According to the Center for Effective Government, more Blacks, Latinos, and people in poverty live close to industrial facilities with toxic chemicals. Communities close to hazardous facilities are likely to suffer the greatest impact when an explosion or leak of toxic substances occurs. People of color effectively live closer to “ticking time bombs,” such as toxic waste processing plants and industrial facilities than other population groups.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of how inequality impacts the exposure of a community to environmental hazards. There can be many other instances. Even natural disasters, such as hurricanes and issues surrounding climate change, can affect minority communities disproportionately. However, these examples highlight the importance of environmental justice.
You have the right to live and raise your children in a non-toxic environment. There are many laws and regulations that apply to environmental hazards and aim to protect citizens. An environmental justice lawyer can explore your legal options and explain how you could potentially hold a company or the government accountable for environmental racism and exposure to toxic substances in your local neighborhood.
Environmental Racism Is Not a New Phenomenon
Unfortunately, environmental racism has a decades-long history. This long-lasting legacy of inequality makes it even more important that we help minority communities by bringing these issues to the attention of lawmakers and politicians.
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s attempted to address the issues of environmental racism by focusing on the public health dangers to communities of color, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Sixty years later, much work remains to protect minorities and those living in poverty from suffering the effects of environmental injustice and environmental racism.
The communities suffering from this unacceptable injustice need to speak out to fight these dangers to their health and well-being.
Environmental racism is wrong and does not only negatively impact life quality and enjoyment but is also responsible for causing premature deaths in minority communities.
Contact Our Environmental Racism Lawyers Today for Help
Many different issues can cause environmental racism. We want to help you fight environmental injustice, whether it impacts you individually, your family, or your community. We can represent you when it comes to issues such as clean water, Camp Lejeune health issues, toxic waste, hazardous industries, and more.
Standing up to powerful companies or local governments can feel intimidating. You may not know where to start in your search for justice and equality. We can help you stand up for your rights to clean water and a clean environment. We are not afraid to tackle tough cases or fight international companies.
Call Ben Crump Law, PLLC today to learn more.