Pollution, Poverty and People of Color

Posted by Christine, September 16, 2012

Rae Tyson reports in Environmental Health News:

Trey Mackey expertly baits his fishing hook with a live worm, sits down on a folding chair and casts a line into the waters of Wisconsin’s Monona Bay. He’s driven up from Chicago for a day of fishing that could provide a fresh, tasty dinner of blue gill. But unbeknownst to Mackey, consuming these fish carries a significant health risk. Every state, including Wisconsin, has issued health advisories that warn of the dangers of eating fish tainted with industrial compounds and other chemicals. More than 4,500 advisories encompass 42 percent of the nation’s lake acreage and 36 percent of river miles. For Mackey, who is African American, the risk is exacerbated: People of color eat a lot of locally-caught fish for economic and cultural reasons. And yet they are the least likely to be warned because state efforts fail to reach minority and low-income populations. “We believe that fish consumption is an environmental justice issue that stems from inadequate risk communication,” said researchers from University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment. Trey Mackey expertly baits his fishing hook with a live worm, sits down on a folding chair and casts a line into the waters of Wisconsin’s Monona Bay. He’s driven up from Chicago for a day of fishing that could provide a fresh, tasty dinner of blue gill. But unbeknownst to Mackey, consuming these fish carries a significant health risk. Every state, including Wisconsin, has issued health advisories that warn of the dangers of eating fish tainted with industrial compounds and other chemicals. More than 4,500 advisories encompass 42 percent of the nation’s lake acreage and 36 percent of river miles. For Mackey, who is African American, the risk is exacerbated: People of color eat a lot of locally-caught fish for economic and cultural reasons. And yet they are the least likely to be warned because state efforts fail to reach minority and low-income populations. “We believe that fish consumption is an environmental justice issue that stems from inadequate risk communication,” said researchers from University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment.

Read the entire story.

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