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Health, equity and environmental justice in Kansas City

 A long range shot of an industrial site with multiple plumes of steam and smoke coming from smokestacks and towers.
Charlie Riedel

Those who can least afford it are most at risk from pollution in Kansas City

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as "the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies."

For a number of communities of color and low-income neighborhoods in Kansas City, the residents are not involved and face a greater risk of exposure to environmental hazards known to produce health problems like cancer, respiratory illness, and shorter life expectancy.

A new report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists in collaboration with CleanAirNow focuses on environmental racism in the heartland. It cites the Environmental Protection Agency for inadequate pollution monitoring and for measuring the impact of individual pollutants within an area rather than the total effect of all pollutants combined.

Because neighborhoods situated closest to produces of pollution tend to include lower-income residents and people of color, these people are disproportionately affected.

"I don't think they're aware as far as making the connections with the health risk," says Magalie Rojas with the Heartland Conservation Alliance noting, "When your told things like this, you need more information because the whole thing is that you have lack of information."

"Health, Equity & Environmental Justice in Kansas City" is 6 – 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 17. This virtual event is free and open to the public but registration is required.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
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