Sociology100 Social Justice Project: Environmental Racism in Long Beach


Long Beach, California… the city is known
for its attractions like the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and of course, the many many beaches In fact, when you Google search Long Beach, the
results that show up on the first page are beautiful photos of sunsets, clear blue
waters, and bright blue skies. But nothing is found relating to air pollution, poor air
quality, or the environmental epidemic sweeping the city. As a team, we want to
put a spotlight on the environmental injustice known as environmental racism
in Long Beach, California But wait! What even is environmental racism? Well, environmental racism is the disproportionate exposure of some racial
groups to environmental toxic substances this correlates to Long Beach because… Long Beach suffers some of the worst air pollution in the United States According
to the annual state of the air report, put out by the American Lung Association, the Los Angeles Long Beach metropolitan district out by the American Lung Association
the Los Angeles Long Beach metropolitan district has once again ranked as the
nation’s most ozone polluted area the area has been at the top of the list for
nearly the entire 19 year history of the report one of the biggest culprits for
air pollution and smog in Long Beach is the oil industries Long Beach is directly
downwind of several of the South Bay oil refineries refineries emit many gasses
and any chemical upset that results in the atmospheric release of refinery
products when usually impact air quality in Long Beach due to the wind
additionally accidental oil spills pollute the groundwater and open
waterways leading us to the next biggest culprit ports the Port of Long Beach is
one of the biggest contributors to air pollution in California heavy pollution
sources at the ports include the ships themselves which burn high sulfur high soot producing bunker fuel and heavy diesel pollution together the ports form the
largest single source of air pollution in Southern California and produce a
hundred tons of smog a day traffic refineries and rail yards
spew even more toxic chemicals into the surrounding neighborhoods where two
million people live according to state officials those on the west side of Long
Beach are among those with the highest risk, while those on the east side, while
still at risk, are much less so to gain more knowledge on the issue,
we interviewed community activist, Gloria Avazian, to give her own insights
regarding environmental racism Okay, so how does being an activist in Los Angeles connect to other areas of Southern California like Long Beach? Um, our incident is very isolated in Porter
Ranch and we’re thought of as an affluent community that doesn’t need
help but in my activism I’ve discovered there are many areas of Los Angeles
especially disadvantaged areas that are greatly affected by the gas production
storage and refining business and those children are very affected just as ours
were with health effects such as asthma rashes nosebleeds and they need our help
as well so all of us working together can make a difference People who live on the west side of Long Beach, are among those with the highest health risks compared to those who live on the east This is largely due to the fact that major sources of pollution such as factories and ports are located in the west When comparing the “Pollution burden scores” of different zip codes in Long beach, state officials announced that 90807, north long beach, has a score of 7.7 out of 8.8, a drastic difference compared to a city in the east, such as belmont shore which only had a score of 4.9 Who are these people affected by the pollutants in their communities? Residents of neighborhoods surrounding these sources of pollution are typically people of color African Americans are more largely populated on the west side near landfills and industrial plants that pollute the water and air around them depleting their general quality of life Because of this, people of color living near these hazardous waste sides are three times more likely to die from exposure to air pollutants than their white counterparts , who reside in cleaner neighborhoods on the east side. In zip code 90813, located in the lower westside, close to the ports, has an asthma percentage of 96.68 indicating almost all the residents of that area have asthma whereas belmont shore, located in the east, only has an asthma percentile of 15.38 These statistics clearly show how the different areas of Long beach are disproportionately affected by their proximity to pollutants that diminish their quality of life. Environmental racism affects people who live in poverty in Long Beach The poverty rate in Long Beach is 19.1% and generally people who are more
affluent survive up to 20 years later than people who are not… people who have
diseases such as cancer, hypertension infant mortality, and
other diseases typically if you are more affluent you can get better care and
live longer North Long Beach residents suffer higher risk for premature death, lung cancer, and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks cardiovascular
damage and developmental and reproductive harm from air pollutants
than different residents in Belmont Shore this is due to the fact that social
class affects the quality of a person’s health care system because social
classes majorly determined by income education and race for instance the
average annual household income in Belmont Shore is $120,000 whereas the average annual household income in on Long Beach is less than half of that of Belmont Shore at $52,000 hence
the North Long Beach residents are not only disproportionately affected by the
harsh pollutants but also do not have an income to afford good health care
systems in California, according to the California Department of Education asthma is the leading cause for chronic absenteeism and the toxic air pollution
poses a greater threat to children due to their smaller physical size and lung capacity In Long Beach, which is considered a city with the worst air quality according to California Health report, 14% of its residents suffer from asthma compared that of 12.5% in Los Angeles and 8% in the US People of color and lower income communities are the hardest-hit asthma-related emergency
department visits, hospitalizations, and mortality are two to four times higher
among african-americans than non-hispanic whites although environmental racism may seem like an issue that has no clear-cut solutions, there are some ways to diminish its effects this can be done by
contacting your local representatives about capping emissions from power plants, which are one of the leading causes for environmental racism Another way to diminish the effects of environmental racism is joining a community group that deals with environmental matters, or donating to their cause such as the east yard communities for environmental justice does in the Long Beach community A primary way to reduce environmental racism is by
spreading awareness at protests or sharing your knowledge and experiences
of this issue with others because working together we can help prevent
this issue as a community

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