Racism, Air Quality and COVID-19

COVID-19 has renewed attention on the nexus of health, racism and environmental injustice.

Historically, communities of color have disproportionately faced air and water pollution and the effects of climate change.

Examples like lead contamination in the water supply of Flint, Michigan and polluting industries operating in the “Cancer Alley” in Louisiana illustrate how environmental racism and public health are intertwined.

And in recent months, Black communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

A study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found Americans in communities with higher levels of fine-particulate pollution are at greater risk of dying from COVID-19.

Similar research into the SARS coronavirus outbreak in 2003 found people from regions with higher air pollution were 84% more likely to die than those in less polluted areas.

In recent days climate experts, reporters and activists have increasingly underscored how racial justice and climate justice are intertwined.