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The level of poverty is even greater in the city of Baton Rouge, where Exxon’s Standard Heights plant is located, with nearly 25% of the population below the poverty line.
About 50% of households headed by single women with children under the age of 5 are living in poverty.
There have been so many cases of cancer, so much inexplicable illness and death, that the corridor has become known as Cancer Alley, an 85-mile stretch between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that is home to more than 150 plants and refineries.
Studies conducted in Louisiana and throughout the country show that the poor and, in particular, poor African Americans, are more likely to live near industrial plants and are exposed to toxic pollutants at a rate much higher than more affluent whites.
“Once you get into the details it’s really quite unbelievable.
“In a lot of these areas the groundwater is contaminated and these are areas where people still subsist on hunting and fishing,” said Wilma Subra, a veteran environmental justice crusader in southeastern Louisiana.
In this case, it means those who are — and aren’t – exposed to contaminated air, soil and water are largely segregated along racial and class lines.
Poor and minority communities have also been degraded by exposure to toxic materials unleashed by dilapidated housing, crumbling infrastructure and the nasty stuff released from the mouth of smoke stacks.
the state compares to short term standards but people don’t live there short term.” One recent study by researchers at the University of Minnesota highlighted the segregation of pollution in America highlighting the exposure to one key pollutant in particular, nitrogen dioxide.
Nitrogen dioxide is an airborne pollutant produced by car exhaust and petroleum refining that is linked to high risk of asthma, heart attack, low birthweight and more benign symptoms like coughing, wheezing and bronchitis.
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Louisiana has the highest concentration of oil, natural gas and petrochemical facilities in the Western hemisphere, and many of the poorest people in the state live close to these refineries.