“Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies” Dr. Robert Bullard
5 Things To Know About Communities Of Color And Environmental Justice Jasmine Bell, Center for American Progress, 4/25/16
1. Communities of color have higher exposure rates to air pollution than their white, non-Hispanic counterparts. A Yale University study found that non-Hispanic whites had the lowest exposure rates for 11 of the 14 pollutants monitored in the study. Meanwhile, Hispanics had the highest exposure rates for 10 out of the 14 pollutants, and African Americans had higher exposure rates than whites for 13 out of the 14 pollutants. Some of the pollutants studied have been connected to asthma, cardiovascular issues, lung disease, and cancer. For example, a case study of The Bronx, New York, found that individuals who lived close to noxious industrial facilities and waste sites were 66 percent more likely to be hospitalized for asthma. Significantly, these same individuals were 13 percent more likely to be people of color.
2. Landfills, hazardous waste sites, and other industrial facilities are most often located in communities of color. A report titled “Toxic Waste and Race at Twenty” reviewed data collected over a 20-year time period and found that more than half of the people who live within 1.86 miles of toxic waste facilities in the United States are people of color. A report by the Center for Effective Government found that people of color are nearly twice as likely as white residents to live within a fenceline zone of an industrial facility. These facilities contribute to air pollution, safety issues, and health concerns.
3. Lead poisoning disproportionately affects children of color. Children of color who live in urban areas are at the highest risk for lead poisoning caused by lead-based paint. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined that 11.2 percent of African American children and 4.0 percent of Mexican-American children are poisoned by lead, compared with 2.3 percent of white children. Lead poisoning can result in a wide range of health problems, such as anemia, seizures, and brain development issues. Even with the restrictions on lead paint usage, children of color who live in low-income communities continue to suffer the most. For example, a 2004 report revealed that African American children and Hispanic children in Chicago were 12 times and 5 times more likely to be poisoned, respectively, than white children.
4. Climate change disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color. The effects of climate change, such as extreme weather conditions, have devastating consequences for communities of color and low-income communities. These extreme weather events can displace residents and even cause death. In the aftermath of such disasters, efforts of city officials to rebuild communities of color and low-income communities are often inadequate compared to efforts to rebuild higher-income and white communities. Perhaps the most powerful example of this inequity is the communities of color in New Orleans that were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Black homeowners received $8,000 less in government aid than white homeowners due to disparities in housing values. In 2013, about 80 percent of the mostly black residents of the city’s Lower 9th Ward had not returned to their community due to inadequate building efforts.
5. Water contamination plagues low-income areas and communities of color across the nation. Studies have documented limited access to clean water in low-income communities of color. Water contamination has largely affected children of color who live in rural areas, indigenous communities, and migrant farmworker communities. Contaminated water can cause an abundance of health-related issues, particularly for young children. Depending on the contaminant, possible health problems can include waterborne diseases, blood disorders, and cancer. Indigenous people of the Navajo Nation, for example, have suffered for years from water contamination due in part to the residual effects of uranium mining in the region during the 1950s, as well as the recent Gold King Mine toxic spill. In St. Joseph, Louisiana, residents are forced to live on water that is tinted brown and yellow but that the state continues to claim is safe to drink. African Americans make up three-quarters of the town’s population and nearly 40 percent of the residents live in poverty.
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By Doug Brooms, ZWAC Co-Chair
NCRA Letters of support for the following 13 State Bills have been re-addressed and sent to the Appropriations Committee Chairs, via the online CA Legislature Position Letter Portal, (FYI, individuals are also welcome to submit letters.) Generic versions of the NCRA support letters are available at the website.
AB 142 Garcia, Cristina D Lead-acid Battery Recycling
AB 161 Ting D “Skip the Slip” paper receipts on request
AB 187 Garcia, Cristina D Used Mattress Recovery and Recycling Act
AB 614 Eggman D “Farm to Food Bank” tax credit
AB 729 Chu D Carpet recycling: Carpet stewardship
AB 792 Ting D Recycling: Plastic beverage containers: Minimum recycled content
AB 827 McCarty D Solid waste: Commercial and organic waste: Recycling bins
AB 1080 Gonzalez D (SB 54) CA Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act
AB 1162 Kalra D Lodging establishments: Personal care products: Small plastic bottles
AB 1583 Eggman D The California Recycling Market Development Act
AB 1718 Levine (SB 8) Smoking Ban for State Parks and Beaches
SB 8 Glazer (AB 1718) Smoking Ban for State Parks and Beaches
SB 54 Allen D (AB 1080) CA Circular Economy and Plastic Pollution Reduction Act
Remaining key dates:
Aug 12 – Legislature reconvenes
Aug 30 – Last day for bills to pass Appropriations
Sept 6 – Last day to amend on the floor
Sept 13 – Last day for each house to pass bills, final recess upon adjournment
Oct 13 – Last day for Governor to sign or veto bills
Jan 1 – Statutes take effect
Jan 6 – Legislature reconvenes
Your comments are welcome!
INVITATION TO INCLUSIVITY AND AWARENESS FROM YOUR NCRA BOARD
By The NCRA Board, 7/9/19
The Board of Directors would like to acknowledge receipt of an anonymous letter in late May reflecting on the recent Recycling Update (RU) conference hosted on March 19, 2019. Part of the letter is presented at right while the entire three-page letter – with one name redacted, is available on the website.
The author self-identified as a supporter, community member, member of present and future generations, and a person of color. S/he addressed the board on uncomfortable RU content and generally inviting the organization to reflect on its role in rooting Zero Waste in environmental justice and ethnic equity.
First, we appreciate the courage it must have taken to share these reflections, let alone to attend RU again when the content and environment was previously experienced as alienating and disturbing. We understand that the invitation is less to draw attention to the individual’s discomfort but rather to reassess our role in contributing to a Zero Waste world that serves the urgent goals of ethnic equity, collaboration and inclusion. We hear you. We are grateful for you for speaking up.
We apologize for facilitating a conference that did not welcome all equitably and may have propagated microaggressions, such as depicting people of color performing undesirable behaviors while white people were shown demonstrating desired behaviors. We own the impact that our collective lack of attention to these details had on at least one attendee. For that, we apologize.
We accept the challenge to adopt inclusivity, collaboration and ethnic equity as a guiding mission at NCRA. We own our role as a board in crafting the content framework of RU and as a space for the diverse NCRA membership and non-members to explore and learn. Our intention is to serve all. We are committing to leveraging resources for our membership and broader communities to that aim.
We invite you to join us, your Board, to reflect on NCRA’s history and re-center our shared mission around diversity, equity, inclusion and collaboration. We are gathering a subcommittee to consider the resources available. Please, join us in this important work of reorienting our zero waste work to build a more just and inclusive movement.
Let us know your experience, thoughts, reflections and interest in joining the initiative at by completing the NCRA Inclusivity Survey. Also use it to share any resources you think will help on this journey. We would also appreciate hearing from anyone who would be willing to assist with organizing RU next year, helping to select RU speakers, or giving a presentation at RU that addresses environmental justice or related issues.
Responses – anonymous or signed can also be mailed to: NCRA, PO Box 5581, Berkeley, CA 94705-5581