The EPA Released the New Soot Pollution Standards

Jan 17, 2023 | BM4F Spotlights, Uncategorized, Young, Gifted & Green Blog Series | 0 comments

Black Millennials 4 Flint Feels They Fall Too Short

Washington, DC–The EPA released the new Soot Pollution Rule. While it’s a step in the right direction, there is still MUCH more work to do to protect already vulnerable frontline, Environmental Justice communities. Stronger soot standards will advance environmental justice. In the United States, people of color breathe more soot pollution, on average, than white people because communities of color tend to be co-located with sources of this deadly pollutant. A recent study conducted by researchers at the EPA-funded Center for Air, Climate, and Energy Solutions found that the disparity in soot exposure between White Americans and Black, Latino and Asian Americans was consistent across the country, in rural and urban settings, and at all income levels. 

Research shows that people of color experience higher than average levels of soot exposure from power plants and industry, light-duty vehicles, diesel-powered heavy-duty trucks and construction. Black Americans, specifically, are exposed to higher than average amounts of pollution from all sources, according to the EPA’s National Emissions Inventory. Additional research shows that soot-caused deaths and other health harms, like asthma attacks that send people to the hospital, disproportionately burden Black and Hispanic populations, as well as people living in poverty. Stronger protections against soot pollution will lessen the disparity.  

In cities like Flint, MI which is still vulnerable due to the Flint Water Crisis, children and child birthing people are significantly at risk as the need for more rigid accountability, oversight and regulations of soot pollution are necessary.  For example, in the most recent Flint and Genesee County Michigan Community Needs Assessment

  • The infant death rate for Flint is more than double that of the United States.
  •  The percentage of low-birth-weight Infants in Flint was 14.6%, 32% higher than the county average, 40% higher than the state average.

The harm from soot pollution could further exacerbate these daunting statistics surrounding maternal and infant health. A study shows that when a pregnant woman breathes in black carbon, the pollutant can travel from her lungs to her placenta. Attached to the wall of the uterus, the placenta is what allows life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients to pass from the mother to the fetus. But apparently it can also harbor tiny particles of black carbon, which accumulate on the side of the placenta that faces the fetus.

“In the words of my good ancestor Fannie Lou Hamer, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”  I and all Black people mean this mentally, physically, and spiritually.  There is never a good time for compromise and EJ communities, largely Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities are asked far too often to accept partial victories as a full win.  EPA must push harder on the soot pollution standards  to truly achieve environmental justice. “ –LaTricea D. Adams, MAT, EdS, Founder CEO & President, Black Millennials 4 Flint 


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