NEW REPORT FINDS INCREASED MORTALITY AND
HOSPITALIZATIONS LINKED TO INDUSTRIAL AIR POLLUTION IN HARRIS COUNTY AND GREATER HOUSTON.
— Cruz Hinojosa, resident of Galena Park
HOUSTON, TX, UNITED STATES, December 9, 2023 /EINPresswire.com/ — In the narrative of Houston’s pulse, Loke G, General Manager of AKM Publishing and Manek Media, found himself quietly present at a pivotal presentation. The event, hosted by Air Alliance Houston unveiled a groundbreaking study delving into the pervasive air pollution crisis gripping Harris County and the Greater Houston area. The barrios were on all the maps that were presented with the evidence. This is information that needs support to create change, and unity to preserve the most important resource in any community, beautiful breath.
Loke G, observer in his role representing the poor, witnessed the session unfold as the comprehensive report starkly outlined a direct correlation between elevated levels of pollutants—PM2.5, SO2, and NOx—and the toll on public health. The impact was felt most profoundly in communities adjacent to industrial giants, primarily inhabited by marginalized populations who experienced the highest concentrations of pollutants and elevated mortality rates. A 20 year difference in mortality rate from residents that live in areas not being affected by these industrial giants.
Houston is plagued by industrial giants based on its zoning laws or lack of. This in turn leaves low-income communities of color living alongside these polluters. For example, the LBJ Hospital is a trauma 3 hospital that treats up to 80,000 patients annually, and a concrete batch plant is being built across the street. To add to that, there are several other plants operating in the Kashmere Gardens community, already facing the brunt of environmental injustice.
Loke G embarked on a revealing tour alongside experts. Listened to guest speakers from the communities and professionals. Neighborhood activists are mobilizing with the support of Air Alliance, EPA just gave a grant to the Environmental Community Advocates of Galena Park (ECAGP). New sensors are being installed in the communities and will be holding the agencies accountable. This tour ventured into locations being closely monitored and explored. The proximity of these sites to pollution-emitting plants, shed light on the stark realities captured by the study. One of the stops included a baseball park where kids would be present for little league tournaments and families would be gathered at such events.
The gathering brought together a panel of health and air pollution experts to unravel the inequitable health effects faced by the residents of Harris County. The discussion centered on the impacts on childhood asthma, premature mortality, and strategies for healthcare providers navigating the complexities of pollution-exposed populations. Insights from the study, were unmasking the reality of pollution hotspots and how information must be shared to our communities for change to become. The grim reality of the situation is that if we continue to ignore issues like these, we risk the future of our generations to come, but as the data will confirm, our families are seeing results of pollution NOW.
Baytown and Deer Park emerged as the epicenters for the highest annual average concentrations of PM2.5, while Manchester/Harrisburg, Galena Park, Jacinto City, Cloverleaf, and the north shore of the Ship Channel faced the brunt of SO2 levels. Deer Park and Channelview stood out with the highest levels of NOx. The study’s meticulous examination revealed an unsettling reality: approximately 33 additional deaths per year in zip codes grappling with PM2.5 emissions. The financial implications were staggering, with PM2.5 pollution commanding a formidable 99.99% share of the total valuation of adverse health effects, amounting to a significant $313,488,635.91 annually. Most concerning was the disproportionate impact felt by residents on the east side along the Houston Ship Channel, underscoring the urgent need for mitigation measures. This is where the call to action comes into play. Air Alliance Houston’s Plea for Change is active.
In response to these disconcerting findings, Air Alliance Houston issued a resounding call to action. Advocating for technological advancements in industrial control, stricter regulations, reinforced environmental laws, and vigilant regulatory oversight, the organization emphasized the urgent need for collective efforts to address the unacceptable levels of air pollution.
As Loke G continued to quietly observe, the voices of Dr. Inyang Uwak, Dr. Loren Hopkins, and Dr. Brett Perkison resonated, emphasizing the gravity of the environmental injustices uncovered by the study. As he absorbs the impact of this revelation, the imperative to address the air pollution crisis in the Greater Houston region becomes ever more pressing. The health and well-being of the community must now take precedence in the collective endeavor to bring about positive change.
Air Alliance Houston is a non-profit organization working to reduce the public health impacts of air pollution and advance environmental justice through applied research, education, and advocacy. For more information and resources, please visit www.airalliancehouston.org.