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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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April 23, 2010

How clean is our air?

©istockphoto.com/nodmitry

Our health and the health of our planet are intertwined. Today, for Earth Day, someone forwarded me a story from The Root, about how climate change disproportionately affects the health of African American people. It's a perspective piece from Jacqui Patterson, an NAACP staffer, about a civil rights aspect of climate change, global warming and pollution.  

While some parts of this perspective piece made me wonder (really!? are you serious?! what's your source for kg of carbon dioxide emitted by ethnicity? and is this really helpful?), there are studies that correlate race/ethnicity and location of toxic facilities.

And all of us who live in Chicago and its near suburbs—of whatever ethnicity, class, age, or other background—are affected by industrial pollution. A 2008 Chicago Tribune article called it simply "Chicago's toxic air." Even Forbes magazine, the EPA and the American Lung Association agree that the Stinky Onion isn't sweet.

We can carpool, use alternate modes of transportation and recycle our hearts out. But don't we also need to advocate for better standards for the industries and machinery we use to make our lives easier, healthier and well?   

Click here to see how clean the air is where you live (by county or address).

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