Want to improve Detroit? How about cleaning-up the air?

In a recent Detroit Metro Times report on how environmental racism continues to impact the City of Detroit, Steve Nealing writes:

Pollution is a widespread problem in the majority-Black city of Detroit. The University of Michigan School of Public Health estimates that air pollution kills more than 650 Detroiters a year — more than twice the number of residents killed by gun violence annually. Thousands more are hospitalized, and children miss a disproportionate number of days at school because of illnesses and asthma.

Emphasis is mine.

That’s unsustainable.

Much is being talked about and debated when it comes to finding ways to attract businesses and younger talent to Michigan.

And while topics such as affordable living, decent jobs, updated transit projects, expanded child care, improved public and higher education, expanding the state’s economic portfolio, and being a welcoming state for all are indeed topics that must be addressed, we won’t go far if we don’t clean-up the air!

If we’re losing 650 Detroiters a year, and thousands more are dealing with chronic illnesses because of the poisonous air they breath, then we’ll never move forward.

In case we’ve forgotten, Detroit ranked as the fifth worst city in the country for people with asthma!

The fifth worst city!

As Mr. Nealing writes:

Numerous studies have shown that Black communities nationwide are disproportionately exposed to industrial air pollution. African-Americans, for example, are 75% more likely to live near industrial facilities than white people, according to “Fumes Across the Fence-Line,” a 2017 study by the National Medical Association, the Clean Air Task Force, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The study estimates that nearly 2,500 children a year in Detroit have asthma attacks linked to air pollution.

Mr. Nealing points-out how a Stallantis Jeep assembly plant on the city’s east side, and a hazardous waste processing plant just miles away are the main culprits. These plants have been cited for air quality violations through the years, but are allowed to continue doing what they do.

They’re also a striking example of what environmental racism looks like.

Michigan Democrats made some significant strides in passing some meaningful clean energy legislation last year, but if the federal government isn’t willing to protect its people, it’s time for the state to enact stricter standards to protect communities of color, who suffer the most from this kind of government inaction.

This is precisely why some people believe government isn’t on their side. They feel like the government works for corporations.

That mindset must change if we’re going to make Michigan an attractive place for all.


“Approaching Downtown Detroit, Michigan, Interstate 75 Northbound” by Ken Lund is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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