Environmental Injustices Harm Public Health!

Happy May! May is the month of many health-related observances, such as Asthma Awareness, Mental Health Awareness, and Women’s Health Week (5/14 – 5/20). It is essential to understand why public health is an environmental justice issue. This issue is especially relevant because Richmond is ranked the 12th highest Asthma Capital of the U.S. according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Not everyone benefits equally from the Earth’s gifts. Some communities have endured the inequitable burden of toxic air, water, and pollution in their homes and neighborhoods. Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities in the United States are disproportionately affected by environmental injustices.

In the United States, environmental racism stems from historical Jim Crow laws and redlining policies and has far-reaching impacts even on global environmental policy. Some examples of environmental racism are local communities’ practices to zone African American communities for toxic, polluting industries like landfills and dumps and corporate tendencies to site new pipeline and energy production industry pollution near Black, Brown, and Indigenous-owned lands. 

Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (VAIPL) works with communities historically and disproportionately affected by environmental racism. Black and Brown communities have systematically been forced to live in industrial zones and breathe polluted air that adversely impacts their health. Communities with higher pollution have an increased risk of respiratory infections, heart disease, and lung cancer.

Many of these conditions can be found in communities near highways and interstates. One way to reduce air pollution is to expand public transit accessibility and increase ridership. We encourage RVA, Roanoke, and Petersburg residents to click below to register, complete the survey, sign our petition, and Join Virginia Interfaith Power & Light and its partners for Ride the Bus Week between May 14th and 20th! A robust public transit service can significantly improve the quality of life for everyone. 

We acknowledge the right to clean air, good health, and a sustainable future. Let us create a world together where all of Creation can thrive. Thank you for your continued help advancing climate and environmental justice in our state through all the ways you take action with us!