Young African-American man works at home because he has an allergic reaction during the allergy season. He blows his nose and sneeze into a handkerchief.

The effects of climate change, has caused a noticeable shift in severe weather including storms, drought, heat waves that all contribute to the spread infectious diseases and poor quality air.

Ethnic minorities and lower income families are the highest in susceptibility for pollution exposure. According to collected health data, Black people and Native Americans are diagnosed with asthma at higher rate.

Emergency departments report that Black people are five times higher to visit the ER for asthma related issues than white patients.

In more recent years, Covid-19 has elevated that cases of asthma emergencies, along with the record breaking heat due to climate change.

Kenneth Mendez, the foundation’s president and chief executive for The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America correlates to the increase in death among minorities to the lack of proper medication and lack of suitable healthcare.

“We need to connect the dots between climate change, allergies, asthma and the disproportionate burden of these experienced by Black, Hispanic and Indigenous populations,” Mendez said. “Climate change is making allergy seasons longer and more intense. We must do more to reverse these trends,” Mendez said.

According to the EDF, another disadvantage that Black communities are faced with is that majority of the communities are adjacent to petrochemical plant factories, power plants and other sources of pollution. When natural disasters do occur, neighboring facilities are ill equipped to correct the damages. This further promotes pollution damage and poor air quality.

Robert D. Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University who has written about environment racism for over 30 years finds inconsistencies in different experiences.

“If you go to communities of color across this country and ask them, ‘What’s the source of the environmental problems?’ They can point you to every one: the highway, the chemical plants, the refineries, the legacy pollution left over from decades ago, in the houses, in the air, in the water, in the playgrounds,” he said. “Empirical research is now catching up with the reality: that America is segregated and so is pollution.”

If Black communities being surrounded by pollution plants isn’t disturbing enough, there also shows to be an increase in multiple highway construction building around urban neighborhoods.

“Communities of color, especially Black communities, have been concentrated in areas adjacent to industrial facilities and industrial zones, and that goes back decades and decades, to redlining,” said Justin Onwenu, a Detroit-based organizer for the Sierra Club. “And a lot of our current infrastructure, our highways, were built on — built through — Black communities, so we’re breathing in diesel emissions and other pollution just because we’re located right next to these highways,” Mr. Onwenu said.

New Orleans community organizer, Cristiane Rosales Fajardo, says people of color need more support after storms.

“We need to think about, how do we support an entire city when a hurricane comes?” she said. “We need to think about how to help our entire city, because guess what? Our blood and our sweat is going to be what it takes to rebuild the city, just like we rebuilt it” after Katrina.

+ posts

Staff Journalist

Leave a comment