Recent studies have shown that minorities are disproportionately exposed to pollutants and contaminants, including carcinogens, because unsafe land uses are sited more frequently in or near minority neighborhoods than in or near white neighborhoods. The Commission for Racial Justice has identified the racial composition of a community as the single most significant predictor of the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities. Given that hazardous waste sites pose serious human health risks, minority communities face greater health threats from environmental factors than do white communities. Without question, the risk to human health is greatest among: (1) individuals who live in urban areas with poor air quality and multiple waste sites or disposal activities; (2) individuals, such as farmworkers, who experience greater exposures to pesticides and live near waste disposal activities or polluting facilities; and (3) individuals who have been exposed to hazardous substances and are more biologically susceptible to environmentally induced disease or injury. Minorities are disproportionately represented in each of these groups.
Samara F. Swanston,
Legal Strategies for Achieving Environmental Equity,
Yale J. Int'l L.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjil/vol18/iss1/13