Nearly Half of New York City Burdened by Pollution

Communities of color make up the majority of people harmed by pollution, as well as heat and flooding, says the study, which is New York City’s first comprehensive survey of environmental injustices.

1 minute read

April 9, 2024, 8:00 AM PDT

By Mary Hammon @marykhammon


Cars passing through flooded street after Hurricane Sandy in New York City.

Sergey / Adobe Stock

A New York City report released last week by the mayor’s office found that nearly 50 percent of all New Yorkers live in areas disproportionately burdened by pollution, and the majority of those people live in communities of color. It marks the city’s first official comprehensive survey of environmental inequalities, reports Aliya Uteuova for the Guardian.

Researchers found that two-thirds of the people in historically red-lined areas, which are still to this day predominantly Black and Latino, live in areas the city calls environmental justice (EJ) areas.

These areas tend to have less tree cover and fewer parks (leading to hotter temperatures), greater vulnerability to stormwater flooding, and higher concentrations of highways, industrial power plants, and waste-water processing facilities nearby

The report’s findings are likely not a surprise to environmental justice advocates or the Black and Latino communities, who have long been sounding the alarm of poor health and economic outcomes for these neighborhoods. However, Peggy Shepard of We Act for Environmental Justice, who was involved in the report, told the Guardian that having these results officially documented by the city will ensure that environmental justice stays on New York City’s agenda. The next stage, she said, will be developing a citywide plan to address it.

Friday, April 5, 2024 in The Guardian

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