Poor peoples and poor nations in the world accept the false and harmful notion that the lack of development meant risky, low-paying jobs and pollution. The economically vulnerable and poor communities, poor states, poor nations and poor regions have succumbed to the notion. The movement demanded that no community, nation, whether rich or poor, whatever the color should be made dumping grounds for these deadly wastes. The movement also alerted the governments of these nations and regions to set up their own measures to protect the health and environment of their own people and areas (Bullard).
Citizen Action and Litigation
Many of the initial activities of the environmental justice movement were in the form of citizen action and litigation (Crossman 2005). Among them were the EPA's disparate-impact regulations, pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. These prohibited recipients of federal funding from engaging in racially discriminatory activities (Crossman).
Four Major Threats to Health
Four major environmental health hazards were identified as plaguing specifically the children in the United States (Bullard 2003). More specifically, the hazards were affecting people of color. These were lead poisoning, toxic housing, toxic schools, and the asthma epidemic (Bullard).
Reports said that lead poisoning was the top environmental health threat to children in the U.S. with 60% of American homes laced with lead-based paint (Bullard 2003). But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that children from low-income homes were eight times more apt to be afflicted with lead poisoning than children from richer homes. Black children were also five times likelier than White children to be affected. Studies conducted by the National Institute for Environmental Health Services found that lead content in a child or young person was associated with lower IQ, higher drop-out rates and higher delinquency rates (Bullard).
Toxic housing has to do with proximity to hazardous waste facilities. A joint study conducted by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas in Dallas in 2000 showed that 870,000 of the 9 million housing units for the poor were located within 1 mile from factories. These factories reported toxic emissions to the EPA. And most of these poor dwellers were minorities (Bullard).
A separate study conducted by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice in 2001 said that more than 600,000 poor and minority students in certain States attended schools within half a mile of federally-identified contaminated areas (Bullard 2003). These States were Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and California. Meanwhile, National Argonne Laboratory researchers reported that 57% of Whites, 65% of Blacks and 80% of Hispanics resided in counties with poor air quality. Air pollution was traced to sources, including dirty power plants. The October 2002 report of the Air of Injustice: African-Americans and Power Plant Pollution by the Clean Air Task Force and Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda said that 68% of the Blacks throughout the country lived within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. This was in comparison with 56% of White (Bullard).
The Asthma epidemic has been attributed to emissions from "dirty" power plants in combination with motor vehicle pollutants (Bullard 2003). These emissions and pollutants formed smog, which could trigger or aggravate many respiratory ailments, including asthma. In 1995, it was reported that more than 5,000 Americans succumbed to asthma. More than 10 million lost school days, 1.8 million emergency room visits, 15 million outpatient visits and almost 500,000 hospitalizations annually were attributed to asthma. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Americans spent more than $14.5 billion in 2000. Blacks and Hispanics were, however, reported to be likelier than Whites to be hospitalized or die from the ailment. It was more difficult for those who did not have medical insurance. A 2001 Commonwealth Fund study said that the rate of uninsured Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans was 1.5 times higher than among White Americans (Bullard).
Bullard, R.D. (2007). Dismantling toxic racism. 4 pages. The New Crisis: Crisis Publishing Company, Inc.
2003). Environment justice for all. 6 pages
Bullard, R. D and Glenn S. Johnson (2000). Environmental justice. 20 pages. Journal of Social Issues: Plenum Publishing Corporation
Crossman, B. (2005). Resurrecting environmental justice. 20 pages. Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review: Boston College School of Law
Merchant, C. (2003). Shades of darkness: race and environmental history. 15 pages. Environmental History: ProQuest Information and Learning Company