Mott Haven in the South Bronx is a classic example where black and Hispanic residents experience a particularly insidious environmental inequality
Daniel Chervoni looked out at the busy street from the small community park he tends as a gardener in the South Bronx and clenched his fist as another Fresh Direct diesel truck roared by, spewing exhaust as it took a popular short-cut through the neighborhood.
They are the reason for our pain, this is why the lungs of Mott Havens residents are suffering, he said.
The park is a little patch of green squeezed between dense housing and a school in the low-income New York City neighborhood of Mott Haven, sometimes nicknamed Asthma Alley because it has some of the worst air pollution levels in the US.
Residents inhale the emissions of the hundreds of daily trucks going in and out of the nearby Fresh Direct warehouse, and exhaust emitted by constant traffic on the four nearby highways, as well as from the printing presses of the Wall Street Journal, a parcel depot and sewage works not far away.
They need asthma hospitalizations at five times the national average and at rates 21 times higher than other NYC neighborhoods.
And while theyre physically closer to such sources of air pollution than most New Yorkers, they use Fresh Direct and read the Wall Street Journal at a lower rate, and generate a minuscule fraction of the vehicles humming along the adjacent expressways.
This all makes Mott Haven, where 97% of the population is Hispanic or black, a classic example of a place caught in a particularly insidious pollution inequity.
A new study not only describes this as a kind of double bind where an excessive burden is placed on the health of such a population by air pollution thats disproportionately generated by white peoples consumption of goods and services but it measures it.
Racialethnic disparities in pollution exposure and in consumption of goods and services in the US are well documented. Some may find it intuitive that, on average, black and Hispanic minorities bear a disproportionate burden from the air pollution caused mainly by non-Hispanic whites but this effect has not previously been directly established, let alone quantified, the report from the National Academy of Sciences stated.
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