New APHA Book Examines Racial Equity, Environmental Health

By Johnson, Teddi Dineley | The Nation's Health, April 2011 | Go to article overview

New APHA Book Examines Racial Equity, Environmental Health


Johnson, Teddi Dineley, The Nation's Health


FROM SAFE streets to clean water and air, a community's physical environment influences the health of its residents. But low-income Americans and minorities have long borne an unequal burden of environmental health threats compared to the general population, according to a new APHA book. Living in the shadows cast by incinerators, smelters, garbage dumps, sewage treatment plants, landfills and chemical plants, residents of low-income and minority communities are disproportionately and adversely affected by industrial pollution and unequal enforcement of environmental regulations.

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Published by APHA Press with funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, "Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States: Building Environmentally Just, Sustainable and Livable Communities," traces the deep roots of environmental racism, which, according to the book's authors, have been hard to eliminate. And while mounting grassroots mobilization over the past three decades has resulted in new laws and regulations, minority neighborhoods continue to serve as "dumping grounds" for polluting facilities.

"The poorest of the poor within the United States have the worst health and live in the most degraded environments," said lead author and APHA member Robert D. Bullard, PhD, who authored the book with Glenn S. Johnson, PhD, and Angel O. Torres, MCP. "One of the most important indicators of an individual's health is one's street address or neighborhood. Residents who physically live on the 'wrong side of the tracks' are subjected to elevated environmental health threats."

The book illustrates the progress that has been made in moving health equity and environmental justice from the confines of grassroots community groups to city halls, state houses, the halls of Congress and even the White House. …

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