It's time to get down to the          of the matter.

(social justice & health)

The Atlantic magazine reports that "across the United States, Black people suffer disproportionately from some of the most devastating health problems, from cancer deaths and diabetes to maternal mortality and preterm births.  Although the racial disparity in early death has narrowed in recent decades, Black people have the life expectancy, nationwide, that White people had in the 1980s — about three years shorter than the current white life expectancy.  African Americans face a greater risk of death at practically every stage of life.

In Baltimore, a 20-year gap in life expectancy exists between the city’s poor, largely African American neighborhoods and its wealthier, whiter areas.  A baby born in Cheswolde, in Baltimore’s far-northwest corner, can expect to live until age 87.  Nine miles away in Clifton-Berea, the life expectancy is 67, roughly the same as that of Rwanda, and 12 years shorter than the American average.   Similar disparities exist in other segregated cities, such as Philadelphia and Chicago."

The New York Times reports this:  "Only eight miles apart, the Streeterville and Englewood neighborhoods of Chicago have a life-expectancy gap of roughly 30 years.  Streeterville is a neighborhood of mostly white, affluent, college-educated families living in townhomes and high-rise condominiums along the shore of Lake Michigan.  A baby born there in 2015 could expect to live to 90. In nearby Englewood, a poor, predominantly Black neighborhood of low-rise apartments in the shadow of Interstate 94, a baby born in 2015 could not expect to reach 60.  There are many reasons for such extreme differences in life expectancy between rich and poor in the United States, including access to health care, environmental factors such as pollution and the chronic stress associated with poverty.  The pandemic is likely to have only widened the gap. The poorer Englewood had one confirmed death from the coronavirus for every 559 residents, while in Streeterville there was just one confirmed death for every 8,107 residents."

According to the Economic Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank, "African Americans experience diabetes, hypertension, and asthma at higher rates than Whites.  The greatest racial disparities exist in the prevalence of diabetes (1.7 times as likely among African Americans as among Whites) and hypertension (1.4 times as likely).  
Air pollution has long been known to increase risk of heart and respiratory disease, heart attacks, asthma attacks, bronchitis, and lung cancer.  Therefore, environmental racism — the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on health outcomes among people of color — is a contributing factor to these racial health disparities.  According to a 2018 report by a group of scientists at the EPA National Center for Environmental Assessment, published in the American Journal of Public Health, people of color are disproportionately affected by air pollution due to their proximity to particulate-matter-emitting facilities.  African Americans suffer the most, with exposure 54 percent above average."

Research spearheaded by the lead researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and who is also an anesthesiologist, found that "even among apparently healthy children, being African American relative to being White was associated with a THREEFOLD increased risk of postoperative death and complications.  Compared with their White peers, African American children had 3.43 times the odds of dying within 30 days after surgery, 18 percent relative greater odds of developing postoperative complications and 7% relative higher odds of developing serious adverse events."  Read the entire study here.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Center for Environmental Assessment published a study in the American Journal of Public Health, after studying facilities that emit air pollution and their locations.  The study found that Black people had "a 1.54 times higher burden (of breathing dirty air) than did the overall population." 

A report called Fumes Across the Fence-Line found this:  "Many African American communities face serious health risks caused by air pollution.  Higher poverty levels increase these health threats from air pollution translating into a bigger health burden on African American communities.  And, companies often site high polluting facilities in or near communities of color, furthering the unequal distribution of health impacts."  Read the entire study here.  The study found:

More than 1 million African Americans live within a half mile of existing natural gas facilities and the number is growing every year.

As a result, many African American communities face an elevated risk of cancer due to air toxics emissions from natural gas development:  Over 1 million African Americans live in counties that face a cancer risk above EPA’s level of concern from toxics emitted by natural gas facilities.

The air in many African American communities violates air quality standards for ozone smog.  Rates of asthma are relatively high in African American communities.  And, as a result of ozone increases due to natural gas emissions during the summer ozone season, African American children are burdened by 138,000 asthma attacks and 101,000 lost school days each year.

More than 6.7 million African Americans live in the 91 counties with oil refineries.

Read more about the toll of Covid-19 on the health of Black Americans here.

* find sources for this section here.