Life is not fair. Some people are born with great advantages and others are born with major disadvantages. This is a fact of life that we are faced with from birth…and one that African Americans are all too familiar with.
Being disproportionally affected by diseases, unemployment, divorce, crime, failing education systems (the list goes on and on) are facts that African Americans live with every day. And if you didn’t know it, you need to add air pollution to that list too.
The report, Air of Injustice, describes how African Americans are disproportionately affected by the air pollution from our nation’s power plants. It also describes the relationship between the poisonous toxins that these plants are emitting and the many environmental health issues that African Americans are faced with such as Asthma and infant deaths.
In the report, you find that nearly 68% of African Americans live near power plants.
“African Americans are more likely to suffer health effects from air pollution. The reason has much to do with where we live. African Americans are far more likely to live near power plants and power plant waste sites. Living near these sites increases our likelihood of exposure and health risk. Also, more than half of all African Americans live in areas with air quality that doesn’t meet federal standards.”
Coal-fired power plants emit some of the most toxic pollutants into the air, such as mercury. These pollutants go from the air, to the rivers, and eventually to the fish and other seafood that we eat. According to Air of Injustice:
“One-third of African Americans are avid anglers, and we eat fish more often and in larger portions than whites. Consequently, we have higher exposure to mercury.”
Exposure to mercury and other pollutants can lead to cancer, brain damage, birth defects…you name it (as almost all parts of the body can be affected.) And to make matters worse, young children and fetuses are more vulnerable to the effects of these pollutants than adults. Have you ever wondered why pregnant women are advised to cut down their intake of some types of fish? If you guessed because of mercury, you are right.
Check out this Mom’s Clean Air Force post that gives an excellent summary and illustration of How Mercury Poisoning works. And please make your voice heard to STOP the TRAIN Act that would delay instituting Cross-State Air Pollution Regulations and Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants.
If you continue to read the report, you will see other statistics that show African Americans are 3 times more likely to be hospitalized from asthma than Caucasians. And we are 2 times more likely to die from asthma than them as well.
Those facts are certainly disheartening. But what do you do when life is unfair? Do you whine about it? No!!! Do you walk around playing the victim? No!!!! What you should do is:
Take Responsibility – find out what you are doing to contribute to the situation.
If you’ve never considered the affect that air pollution has on your family and your community, you can no longer say that you didn’t know. Now use that information as power. Start now before it’s too late!