Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty 1987 - 2007

United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice produced the first national study linking race and the location of hazardous waste sites The United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice produced the first national study linking race and the location of hazardous waste sites in 1987. Race continues to be a significant independent predictor of commercial hazardous waste facility locations when socioeconomic and other non-racial factors are taken into account.
  • People of color make up the majority (56%) of those living in neighborhoods within 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) of the nation's commercial hazardous waste facilities, nearly double the percentage in areas beyond 3 kilometers (30%)  
  • People of color make up a much larger (over two-thirds) majority (69%) in neighborhoods with clustered facilities
  • People of color in 2007 are more concentrated in areas with commercial hazardous sites than in 1987 Race continues to be a significant independent predictor of commercial hazardous waste facility locations when socioeconomic and other non-racial factors are taken into account
  • Over 5.1 million people of color, including 2.5 million Hispanics or Latinos, 1.8 million African Americans,  616,000 Asians/Pacific Islanders, and 62,000 Native Americans live in neighborhoods with one or more commercial hazardous waste facilities
  • Percentages of people of color as a whole are 1.9 times greater in host neighborhoods than in non-host areas.
  • Percentages of African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Asians/Pacific Islanders in host neighborhoods are 1.7, 2.3, and 1.8 times greater (20% vs. 12%, 27% vs. 12%, and 6.7% vs. 3.6%), respectively by EPA Region EPA Region  
  • Racial disparities for people of color as a whole exist in 9 out of 10 EPA regions (all except Region 3)
  • Disparities in people of color percentages between host neighborhoods and non-host areas are greatest in: Region 1, the Northeast (36% vs. 15%);Region 4, the southeast (54% vs.30%); Region 5, the Midwest (53% vs. 19%); Region 6, the South, (63% vs. 42%); and Region 9, the southwest (80% vs. 49%) – Racial disparities for people of color as a whole exist in 9 out of 10 EPA regions (all except Region 3)

CONCLUSIONS REPORT

  • People of color are found to be more concentrated around hazardous waste facilities in 2007 than in 1987
  • Race matters -- Race maps closely with the geography of pollution
  • Place matters -- Unequal protection places communities of color at special risk
  • Polluting industries still follow the path of least resistance
  • The current environmental protection apparatus is "broken" and needs to be "fixed"
  • Slow government response to environmental contamination and toxic threats unnecessarily endangers the health of the most vulnerable populations in our society.
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