Environmental injustice and environmental racism are unacceptable and cause detrimental health conditions, as well as premature deaths, in communities across the United States. Unfortunately, it is often the most at-risk in society who are affected by environmental injustice, including minority and poor communities. Environmental injustice particularly affects the children living in these communities.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), environmental injustice contributes to disparities in health status across populations of differing ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status, with infants and children being more impacted than adults by exposure to hazardous environmental conditions.
Environmental injustice is not right, it is not fair, and you do not have to stand for it. If you, or your entire community, suffer from environmental health injustice, you can speak out and demand answers as well as change. You can consult an environmental justice lawyer regarding any legal options that you and your community could potentially utilize to obtain environmental justice and compensation for any damages.
Diseases Linked to Hazardous Environments
Diseases, especially in children, linked to hazardous chemicals or toxins in the environment include asthma, lead poisoning, and obesity, according to the Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine. Children are generally more vulnerable to environmental toxins than adults for several reasons, including:
- Disproportionately heavier exposure to chemicals.
- Immature metabolic pathways, meaning children need a long time to process and excrete toxic compounds compared to adults.
- Rapid growth and development making children more vulnerable to toxins.
- Early exposure to toxins may lead to serious diseases in later life.
However, exposure to dangerous environmental conditions can also cause many diseases in adults, including:
- Lung cancer
- Respiratory infections
- Heart disease
- Fertility problems
- Immune deficiencies
- Kidney disease
- Tooth decay
- Waterborne diseases
This list, although long, is not exhaustive, and many other illnesses can be in part or wholly contributed to environmental toxins and hazards. Research is still ongoing into how exposure to certain chemicals and pollutants can aggravate or cause certain health conditions.
The fact remains that people of color, especially poor children, may suffer the devastating health effects of environmental injustice at a much higher rate than other communities. Since children can be heavily affected by toxins, the long-term effects of toxin exposure now may be felt many decades into the future. We all have the responsibility to create a safe environment for the children in our communities, whatever the color of their skin.
Health Problems for Victims of Environmental Injustice at Camp Lejeune
For nearly 3 decades, marines stationed at Camp Lejeune were exposed to toxic drinking water. Long-term, service members have suffered extreme health effects. Because camp authorities neglected to rectify toxicity in their drinking water, veterans have been diagnosed with diseases like:
- Cancer of the bladder, kidney, esophagus, liver, lung, and breast
- Adult Leukemia
- Renal toxicity
- Multiple Myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Hepatic steatosis
- Infertility and miscarriage
- Parkinson’s Disease
Marines stationed at Camp Lejeune were subject to the camp authorities. With no other options or recourse, they had to continue to use toxic water for decades. This level of neglect to rectify unlivable conditions is a massive injustice to our military. However, thanks to the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, victims can now demand compensation.
Air Pollution Disparities
According to the American Lung Association, communities throughout the United States do not equally share the burden of air pollution. Racial and ethnic groups, as well as poor communities, are paying a heavier price. Black people, as well as Asians and Hispanics, are more likely to suffer premature death due to higher levels of particle pollution than white people. Further aggravating the problem is the fact that people of color tend to live in areas where there is greater pollution from traffic sources, for example, in inner cities. This is partly a legacy from decades of racial segregation.
A study published in the American Journal of Health (AJH) examined the disparities in communities in relation to their pollution, in particular regarding exposure to particulate matter emission sources. The outcome of the study confirmed that people of color suffer from 1.54 times higher burden of such pollution than the overall population.
Researchers found that exposure to pollutants was more pronounced in black communities than in poor communities, suggesting that race rather than socioeconomic status could be the number one factor when it comes to exposure to environmental hazards and air pollution.
Air pollution can cause premature deaths as well as diseases such as:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Lung cancer
- Respiratory problems
- Heart problems
- Immune system defects
The Effects of Pollution
While it is well established that black and other minority communities are disproportionately bearing the brunt of pollution, one thing is clear: the adverse effects of pollution affect all of us in one way or another. We should all have access to clean water and clean air, no matter our socioeconomic status or our race. Reducing air pollution and toxic substances in our environment, as well as ensuring justice for all communities, should concern each and every one of us.
The effects of pollution can be devastating and deadly. It is up to all of us to do our part to speak out and demand that the needs of our communities come before the needs of big corporations and government interests. It may feel like there’s nothing we can do in the face of systemic discrimination, racism, and inequality, but speaking out and fighting back is how we demand solutions to environmental injustice.
We Can Fight for You
If you or your community have been affected by environmental racism and injustice through toxic chemicals, pollution, or toxic industries that are causing illnesses and premature deaths, please contact us for help. We can offer you a free consultation to determine whether you have a case. If so, we can help you fight environmental injustice and pursue justice for any adverse health conditions you or your family are suffering due to environmental hazards.
Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC now for a free consultation: (800) 595-2555.