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Environmental Justice and Environmental Health – Northern Manhattan & Beyond Grassroots Academy April 26, 2007 Anhthu Hoang, General Counsel West Harlem Environmental Action (WE ACT for Environmental Justice) WHAT IS AIR POLLUTION Definition

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Environmental Justice and Environmental Health – Northern Manhattan & Beyond

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Environmental Justice and Environmental Health – Northern Manhattan & Beyond

Grassroots AcademyApril 26, 2007

Anhthu Hoang, General Counsel

West Harlem Environmental Action

(WE ACT for Environmental Justice)


WHAT IS AIR POLLUTION

Definition

Chemical, physical or biological agents that alter the

natural characteristics of the Earth’s atmosphere

Examples

Chemical: Polycyclicaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

Physical: Particulate matter (PM), nuclear radiation

Biological: Pollen, mold, germ warfare


SOURCES OF AIR POLLUTION

Human activities

Manufacturing, trade & warfare

Fuel & power production

Agricultural production & burning

Transportation

Household activities & waste disposal

Construction

Natural?

Volcanic eruptions, wildlife emissions, dust, wildfires, radiation


ENVIRONMENTAL AND HEALTH

IMPACTS OF AIR POLLUTION

Human Disease

Cancer

Cardiovascular disease

Respiratory disease

Neurological & developmental

Biological Environmental Impacts

Plant & wildlife disease

Genetic loss & species extinction

Physical Environmental Impacts

Global Warming & Climate change

Acid rain & urban heat island


NORTHERN MANHATTAN

Demographics

  • 4 communities:

    East, Central, & West Harlem + Washington Hts

  • Over 600,000 people

    in 7.4 mi2

  • 44% African-American;

    44% Latino

  • Median household income: $14,896 (Central Harlem) $29,479 (Morningside Hts)


Evidence of Disproportionate Exposures in the United States

  • United Church of Christ “Toxic Waste & Race” (1987)

    • 3 of 5 black and Hispanic Americanslive in communities with  1 unregulatedwaste site(s)

    • Race = single most important variableexplaining proximity to toxic waste site

    • Percentageof local population composed ofpeople of color directly correlatedwith number of commercial waste sites

  • 1994 Update

    • 1980-1993 percent people of color in all zip codes w/ toxic waste facilities increased from 25% to 31%


Northern Manhattan

Sources of Pollution

  • Six of sevenManhattan bus depots

  • Municipal diesel garbage truck depots

  • North River Sewage Treatment Plant

  • Poor housing (roughly 70% housing units built before 1930)

  • N. Manhattan hosts major inter-city truck routes

  • * Except E. Harlem with 28.3%


Lack of Positive Environmental Factors

  • Lowest per capita and per acre ratio of parks, open space, & grocery stores

  • Poor pedestrian safety discourages physical activity, resulting in dangerous sedentary lifestyles

  • Co-location of industrial land uses with housing creates incentive to stay indoors


Impact on Environmental Health: Asthma

Health Disparities

  • Black children asthma 237% the rate of white children (2001)

  • People of color mortality rate 250% whites (2000)

  • East Harlem’s childhood morbidity rate is 300%citywide average and 600% national average

    Environmental links

  • Diesel, PM, ozone & other asthma triggers

  • Housing disrepair lead to pests & allergens


Impact on Environmental Health: Childhood Lead Poisoning

  • National Childhood Lead Poisoning Rates

    • 64% children of color

    • 12% white

    • 36% unknown race

      (Centers for Disease Control, 2000)

  • In NYC, 90% of new cases involve children of color

    (NYC DOHMH, 2001)


Impact on Overall Environmental Health

  • Poor Birth Outcomes

    • Low Birthweight

    • High Infant Mortality almost 2x city average

  • Poor Adult Health

    • % Women who are overweight > 2x state average

    • Diabetes almost 2x state average

    • Poor Cardiovascular Health

    • Mental health and emotional distress


For More Information

Anhthu Hoang

WE ACT

271 W. 125th St.

Suite 308

New York, NY 10027

anhthu@weact.org

212-961-1000,

Ext. 311


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