July 16 2004

More Than 7 Out Of 10 Latinos Live In Polluted Communities

A new report issued by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), with the support of Clear the Air, found that more than 7 out of 10 Hispanic Americans are breathing air that violates federal pollution standards. Hispanic Americans face a threat 16 percent greater than the overall population.

The report, Air of Injustice: How Power Plant Pollution Affects the Health of Hispanics and Latinos, documents the impact of air pollution on Hispanic Americans, summarizing, for the first time, the statistics available regarding the health impacts of this pollution, and taking a special look at air pollution from power plants, the largest industrial source of pollution.

“Our civil rights must include the right to breathe healthy air, the right to raise healthy children, the right to challenge the companies that pollute and petition the government charged with protecting us,” said Hector M. Flores, LULAC National President. “On this, our 75th anniversary, we are demanding our leaders recognize the effect air pollution is having on our families and demand real enforcement of clean air laws and real steps toward more stringent standards.”

In the Forward to the report, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson wrote, “This report confirms what many have feared: Hispanic communities disproportionately suffer health problems that result from living with pollution from power plants. Low-income and minority populations are subject to elevated environmental risks through out the country, so this finding may not be surprising. But it is factual information that can provide a foundation for change.”

For example, the incidence of asthma in children of Latino mothers is two and a half times that of non-Latino white children.

“The Latino community suffers from the health threats associated with air pollution at epidemic proportions,” said Angela Ledford, Director of Clear the Air. “All Americans deserve stronger safeguards to reduce pollution from the oldest and dirtiest power plants. But the tens of millions of Hispanic Americans who breathe dirty air are among those with the most to gain – and the most to lose if we continue doing nothing.”

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