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  • Here, along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge

  • is an 85-mile stretch of land known as Cancer Alley.

  • For decades, some communities living in this

  • part of Louisiana have reported disproportionately high rates of respiratory diseases and cancer.

  • In one part of a parish called St. John the Baptist, a person's lifetime risk of getting

  • cancer is 50 times greater than that of the average American.

  • And now it also has one of the highest Covid-19 death rates per capita in the country.

  • A closer look reveals that the community here is predominantly black

  • and that figures into an alarming pattern.

  • Across the country, black people are dying at disproportionate rates compared to their populations.

  • While there are many historical and structural inequalities at play,

  • one part of the problem may be lurking in the air.

  • Louisiana has some of the most toxic air in the US.

  • For decades oil, gas, chemicals and plastics have been manufactured here.

  • Much of it comes from the roughly 200 chemical plants and oil refineries which dot this corridor on the banks of the Mississippi River.

  • They call it Cancer Alley. They are afraid that this air, the very air I'm breathing

  • right now, is so filled with carcinogens that they have labeled the river area

  • a national sacrifice zone.

  • The industry emits dozens of different chemicals that are known to cause cancer

  • along with something called PM2.5,

  • which causes fine particle pollution.

  • When exposed to it, these tiny particles,

  • just a fraction of the width of a human hair, can lodge deep in our lungs and bloodstream

  • and can lead to health problems like heart disease, asthma, and lung cancer.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency's estimates of cancer risk from air toxicity are far higher

  • in this region than much of the rest of the country,

  • and they follow the path of the petrochemical industry.

  • But even within these high risk areas, here

  • along the Mississippi, and across the country,

  • these risks are not distributed equally among communities.

  • One EPA analysis found that black people are

  • exposed to about 1.5 times more particle pollution than white people.

  • For example, even though St. John the Baptist is 58% black,

  • the community closest to this chemical plant is 92% black.

  • It is not a mystery. It is not, you know, voodoo. This is real.

  • That's Robert Bullard who's been researching

  • urban planning and environmental policy for decades,

  • and has written 18 books on it.

  • Because of housing discrimination and because of residential segregation,

  • the history of this country is tied to race and place.

  • Here along cancer alley, the history of the communities goes back to slavery.

  • This map shows that the area used to be mostly sugar plantations.

  • After slavery ended, many free black people, stayed in the area and established black communities on or near plantations like these.

  • Others continued to be exploited through a system called sharecropping,

  • where white plantation owners gave black farmers access to land in exchange for a portion of their crop as rent.

  • Land owners often manipulated prices to make a profit,

  • while pushing black laborers into debt and poverty.

  • The practice continued for nearly a century, until the 1940s when a new industry took off in Louisiana.

  • And petrochemical plants started replacing these plantations.

  • They were invited into the state and into the corridor, without the permission of the

  • people who live closest.

  • These many decisions were made when people of color didn't have representatives.

  • Companies set up their facilities right next to the historically black communities.

  • But most of the jobs at the plants didn't go to them.

  • And the community is left with pollution, poverty and sickness,

  • and in some cases, death.

  • Corporations often bought out entire towns.

  • Like here in Reveilletown, where the Georgia Gulf Corporation bought out the town and today

  • there's still a historically black cemetery within the grounds of a chemical plant.

  • Power and money dictate where things go that other people don't want.

  • That's how we end up right now with all of these, what we call sacrifice zones,

  • these places that are over-polluted, have more than their fair share of poverty and sicknesses.

  • Toxic industries have been established near communities of color across the US.

  • Like mining operations and power plants on and near Native American reservations.

  • And in more urban areas, racist public policies like redlining have historically marked

  • black and brown neighborhoods as less desirable, pushing polluters like highways and factories

  • closer to their homes.

  • Zip code is still the most potent predictor of health and well-being.

  • You tell me your zip code. I can tell you how healthy you are,

  • and I can tell you what's in your neighborhood and what's not in your neighborhood.

  • One analysis of eight cities shows residents of historically redlined neighborhoods live

  • with significantly higher levels of air pollution

  • and are more than twice as likely as their peers to visit emergency rooms for asthma today.

  • The research draws a strong connection between history, and health.

  • And how even now, 80 years after these maps were drawn,

  • they still play a role in not just where people live,

  • but how healthy they are.

  • All these things converge, and then you get

  • this pandemic, you get this heat seeking missile

  • that is targeting, that is zeroing in on the most vulnerable community.

  • And when it targets that community, what we end up with is a death bomb.

  • The health problems that air pollution exposure can lead to,

  • like heart and respiratory diseases,

  • are the same underlying conditions that can make coronavirus much more dangerous.

  • One pre-print study made a clear link between air pollution and more severe coronavirus cases.

  • By analyzing over 3000 US counties, and controlling for certain factors,

  • they found that counties with higher exposures to air pollution,

  • also had higher probabilities of deadly coronavirus cases.

  • In their analysis, a small increase in long-term exposure to air pollution

  • led to a large increase in the Covid-19 death rate.

  • And although we should be cautious with this preliminary data,

  • the findings underscore a possible reason why the coronavirus has been particularly deadly in black communities.

  • In Louisiana, black residents make up 32 percent of the population,

  • but they made up 56 percent of Covid-19 deaths.

  • And in Michigan, 14 percent of the population,

  • but 41 percent of deaths.

  • The coronavirus is actually bringing to the surface what many of us have known for many years.

  • People already have all these underlying conditions because of where they live,

  • because of not having access to health care,

  • because not having health insurance,

  • not having, you know, the kinds of of things that make people healthy in terms of the built environment.

  • And so it is not surprising. It's disappointing

  • and it makes you angry.

  • In March, the Trump administration suspended clean air protections across the country.

  • So in Louisiana's cancer alley, that

  • means petrochemical facilities will now have no oversight over how much they pollute.

  • And even though we are just starting to learn about the connections between pollution exposure

  • and severe coronavirus outcomes,

  • it's a move that ignores the history and research that precedes it...

  • of how segregation, pollution, and health in black communities

  • are inextricably linked.

Here, along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge

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コロナウイルスが黒人を最も苦しめている理由の一つは (One reason why coronavirus hits black people the hardest)

  • 281 4
    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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