Low-Income Minority Communities in California’s Bay Area More Likely To Be Exposed to Pollution That Increases Health Risks, Report Finds
Low-income residents and minorities in the San Francisco Bay Area are more likely than whites to be exposed to pollution, thus increasing their risk of cancer and asthma, according to a report released Saturday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Francisco, the Oakland Tribune reports. The report -- called "Still Toxic After All These Years" and co-written by Manuel Pastor, professor and director of the Center for Justice, Tolerance and Community at the University of California-Santa Cruz -- examined several pollution databases and then compared the data with U.S. Census Bureau neighborhood demographics. It found that two-thirds of residents living within one mile of a pollution source regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency -- including refineries, power plants, factories and other large industrial polluters -- are minorities, while two-thirds of residents living two-and-a-half miles away or farther are white. In addition, recent immigrants are nearly twice as likely to live within one mile of such a source as they are to live 2 1/2 miles away. Even with equal incomes, minorities still are more likely to live closer to pollution sources than whites, the report said. "The patterns are clear and indisputable. Communities of color face greater exposure to air pollution and toxics. They bear a disproportionate burden and face greater hazards and risks than others in the Bay Area," Pastor said. Amy Cohen -- campaign director for the Bay Area Environmental Health Collaborative, which partly sponsored the report -- said that the finding "really confirms what many (minority) community residents have experienced for years. They know the pollution sources are closest to them. They know they live near the highways and the large (pollution) facilities" (Fischer, Oakland Tribune, 2/18). The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat to view the report.This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.