One reason why coronavirus hits black people the hardest

News & Politics

Toxic air can weaponize the coronavirus.

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Across the US, black people are dying from Covid-19 at disproportionately high rates. While there are many different factors at play behind the stark racial disparities — there’s one possible reason that’s been lurking in the air for decades: pollution.

The long history of segregation and housing discrimination has long put black people at greater risk of living near chemical plants, factories and highways, exposing them to higher levels of air pollutants. These pollutants have had a chronically negative impact on health, leading to conditions like hypertension and asthma. Now, those same diseases are associated with severe cases of Covid-19, and showing that where you live can determine whether you survive from Covid-19.

Read the full study on air pollution exposure and Covid-19 mortality: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/covid-pm

Read the study on historic redlining and emergency room visits due to asthma: https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanplh/article/PIIS2542-5196(19)30241-4/fulltext

Read the study on Disparities in Distribution of Particulate Matter Emission Sources by Race and Poverty Status: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5844406/

To learn more about the experiences of residents in St. John the Baptist Parish, check out the Concerned Citizens of St. John website: https://www.ccosj.com/

To learn more about some of the air pollution risks in the Midwest, check out the Environmental Law & Policy Center: http://elpc.org/. They also run an air monitoring site for Chicago that highlights some of these disparities: https://airqualitychicago.org/

Read more about Cancer Alley from ProPublica/ The Times-Picayune and The Advocate: https://www.nola.com/news/environment/article_49fe4540-f74a-11e9-8d20-eb0f97323b91.html
https://projects.propublica.org/louisiana-toxic-air/
And The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2019/may/06/cancertown-louisana-reserve-special-report

A lot of our data comes from the National Air Toxics Assessment Cancer Risk map, which you can check out through the EPA: https://ejscreen.epa.gov/mapper/

The Covid Tracking Project also regularly compiles Covid-19 data on race: https://covidtracking.com/race

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