Air pollution, bad water, and health problems plague the community of Braddock, PA. Home to 1,841 people, and a 30.3 percent poverty rate, Braddock faces environmental problems daily. 61 percent of Braddock residents are African-American. Braddock is a prime example of what comes to mind when I hear the phrase “environmental racism”. Recently CityLab , an informative website that inspires people who are creating cities of the future, had their writers Brentin Mock and David Montgomery speak out against the living conditions in Braddock. Mock stated “The reach and scope of Braddock’s toxicity is emblematic of what it means to suffer environmental injustice in the US, where people of color with limited resources, bear the brunt of pollution.” While this is not the dictionary’s definition of environmental racism, it’s parallel to it.
Some recent findings revealed just how bad Braddock’s condition truly is. 73 percent of Braddock homes are at risk for lead paint. While another 90 percent of residents are at risk of exposure to poor air. Because of the bad air quality in Braddock 35 percent of children that live near Braddock and Clariton Steel mills have asthma.
According to Braddock native Brandy Rawls that’s just the way it is. Rawls grew up with asthma, eczema, and other air quality related problems. The problems facing Braddock do not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. It was reported that the American Lung Association stated that Allegheny County is 12th in the nation for year round pollution from particulate matter.
This issue in Braddock is not only causing long term health problems, but it is also effecting everyday activities. CityLab writers Mock and Montgomery said that the asthma rates among black children in the area are so bad that it has contributed to the constant absentee crisis that local schools face.
It is hard to imagine something of this nature happening right down the street from us, but it is, and we need to protect not just local residents, but residents in all municipalities. Environmental justice needs to be for all, not just some.