Quantcast

African Americans Disproportionately Suffer Health Effects of Oil and Gas Facilities

Health + Wellness
Teens play basketball at a public park in Port Arthur, Texas. Karen Kasmauski / International League of Conservation Photographers

African American communities face a disproportionate risk of health issues caused by gas and oil pollution, according to a report issued Tuesday by two advocacy groups.

The report from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Clean Air Task Force noted the importance of Obama-era U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that finalized standard for methane and ozone smog-forming volatile organic compound (VOCs). The report states that if the Trump administration's dismantling of environmental regulations continues, the situation for African Americans will worsen.


The study found oil and natural gas facilities were built or currently exist within a half-mile of more than one million African Americans, exposing these communities to higher risks of cancer due to toxic emissions. "African-Americans are exposed to 38 percent more polluted air than Caucasian Americans, and they are 75 percent more likely to live in fence-line communities than the average American," the report said, referring to neighborhoods near to gas and oil facilities.

Counties located in the Gulf Coast Basin are home to the most counties with oil refineries and higher percentages of African Americans. Michigan, Louisiana and Tennessee, the report found, have the highest percentage of African American residents living in oil refinery counties. Texas and Louisiana, both in the Gulf Coast Basin, were home to the largest African American individuals at risk for cancer, with nearly 900,000 living in areas above the EPA's level of concern.

"The effects of oil and gas pollution are disproportionately afflicting African Americans, particularly cancer and respiratory issues, and the trend is only increasing," said Dr. Doris Browne, the National Medical Association President.

The report also found that oil and natural gas industries violate the EPA's air quality standards from natural gas emissions-related ozone smog in numerous African communities, causing more than 130,000 asthma attacks among school children. This results in more than 100,000 missed school days each year.

Defending the environmental protections finalized during the Obama administration and advocating for additional protections against pollution from the oil and gas industry will help improve the health of many African American communities, the study noted.

But the Trump administration has already begun to dismantle Obama-era EPA steps taken in 2016 that aimed to clean up toxic air pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde and sulfur dioxide. It is also taking aim at 2016 EPA actions that address the 1.2 million existing sources of methane pollution and other airborne pollution. The White House claims these regulations are unnecessary industry burdens. The Trump administration's moves are being challenged in courts around the country.

"What this administration is discovering as it attempts to undo vital health and environmental protections is that these sensible standards cannot simply be wished away, only to the benefit of the oil and gas industry," said Sarah Uhl, program director of short-lived climate pollutants for Clean Air Task Force.

"Not only do we have the law on our side, we also have the medical and scientific communities who will help ensure that our air, and our health, particularly in fence-line communities, are protected to the full extent of the law."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Ketura Persellin

Global consumption of beef, lamb and goat is expected to rise by almost 90 percent between 2010 and 2050. But that doesn't mean you need to eat more meat. In fact, recent news from Washington gives you even less confidence in your meat: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of line workers.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Kaitlyn Berkheiser

While enjoying an occasional alcoholic beverage is unlikely to harm your health, drinking in excess can have substantial negative effects on your body and well-being.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
MStudioImages / E+ / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Backpacking is an exciting way to explore the wilderness or travel to foreign countries on a budget.

Read More Show Less
Tim P. Whitby / 21st Century Fox / Getty Images

The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.

Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.

The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.

Read More Show Less
A protest march against the Line 3 pipeline in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18, 2018. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Collin Rees

We know that people power can stop dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, because we've proved it over and over again — and recently we've had two more big wins.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Scientists released a study showing that a million species are at risk for extinction, but it was largely ignored by the corporate news media. Danny Perez Photography / Flickr / CC

By Julia Conley

Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.

Read More Show Less
DoneGood

By Cullen Schwarz

Ethical shopping is a somewhat new phenomenon. We're far more familiar with the "tried and tested" methods of doing good, like donating our money or time.

Read More Show Less
Pixabay

Summer is fast approaching, which means it's time to stock up on sunscreen to ward off the harmful effects of sun exposure. Not all sunscreens are created equally, however.

Read More Show Less