Race, Class and Environmental Health

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m studying Food Deserts for my current Environmental Studies subject.  Even the preliminary research is bringing to light huge disparities in food access and population health, based on race, socioeconomic status and gender.  Reading other articles recently has inspired me to write a short series on the connections between race, class and environmental health.  If anyone has any suggestions for things they would like me to write about, please let me know in the comments.

One of the articles that sparked my interest in writing about this was this one in Time magazine online, on ‘The Racial Politics of Asthma.’  The statistics quoted in the article are alarming:

“African American children have a:

• 260% higher emergency room visit rate.

• 250% higher hospitalization rate.

• 500% higher death rate from asthma, as compared with white children.”

Further, if other statistics from the  Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America are considered, the picture becomes even more alarming. For example, ‘ It is estimated that 80 percent of Hispanics live in areas that failed to meet one U.S. EPA air quality standard, compared to 65 percent of African Americans and 57 percent of Whites’ (AAFA, date not specified).

And, as the article notes, researchers are now making the explicit connection between air pollution and asthma.


Image from Grist.org

We might not be able to switch to renewables rigth here and now…but really?  How on earth are we ever going to see change with numbers like that?  And, until that change comes about, racial minorities and low socioeconomic groups will continue to be subject to an incredible social injustice.

Further Reading:

One thought on “Race, Class and Environmental Health

  1. I remember reading that African Americans are also at much higher risk of heart disease. Being an asthmatic since birth myself, I find those statistics really scary.

    But, to answer your call for subjects to write about, may I suggest racially biased waste disposal. I’m wracking my brain trying to remember where I read about this, but basically the story is that there have been cases where industrial waste has been dumped in and around African American neighborhoods in the US. It might be something to look into.

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