African Americans Disproportionately Suffer Health Effects of Oil and Gas Facilities
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."
'Kicking Ass for Her Generation': Applause for 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg as EU Chief Pledges $1 Trillion to Curb Climate Threat
By Julia Conley
Sixteen-year-old climate action leader Greta Thunberg stood alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Thursday in Brussels as he indicated—after weeks of climate strikes around the world inspired by the Swedish teenager—that the European Union has heard the demands of young people and pledged more than $1 trillion over the next seven years to address the crisis of a rapidly heating planet.
In the financial period beginning in 2021, Juncker said, the EU will devote a quarter of its budget to solving the crisis.
‘Plastic Is Lethal’: Groundbreaking Report Reveals Health Risks at Every Stage in Plastics Life Cycle
With eight million metric tons of plastic entering the world's oceans every year, there is growing concern about the proliferation of plastics in the environment. Despite this, surprisingly little is known about the full impact of plastic pollution on human health.
But a first-of-its-kind study released Tuesday sets out to change that. The study, Plastic & Health: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet, is especially groundbreaking because it looks at the health impacts of every stage in the life cycle of plastics, from the extraction of the fossil fuels that make them to their permanence in the environment. While previous studies have focused on particular products, manufacturing processes or moments in the creation and use of plastics, this study shows that plastics pose serious health risks at every stage in their production, use and disposal.
Air pollution within the home causes 3.8 million deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization. A recent University of Colorado in Boulder study reported by The Guardian found that cooking a full Thanksgiving meal could raise levels of particulate matter 2.5 in the house higher than the levels averaged in New Delhi, the world's sixth most polluted city.
But soon, you will be able to shop for a solution in the same place you buy your budget roasting pans. IKEA is working on a specially-designed, air-purifying curtain called the GUNRID.
A rare species of giant tortoise, feared extinct for more than 100 years, was sighted on the Galápagos island of Fernandina Sunday, the Ecuadorian government announced.