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Resource ID: #29078
Subject: Air Pollution
Source: Al Shaw, Lylla Younes, Ava Kofman, Lisa Song, Max Blau, Kiah Collier, Ken Ward Jr., Alyssa Johnson, Maya Miller, Lucas Waldron, Kathleen Flynn
Affiliation: ProPublica
Date: 2021-12-27



In a groundbreaking data analysis and interactive map, ProPublica revealed more than 1,000 hot spots of toxic industrial air pollution that the EPA has allowed to take root across America, elevating the cancer risk of more than a fifth of the nation’s population, including 256,000 people exposed to threat levels the agency deems unacceptably high. Our series captured how the EPA has failed to protect the public, not just through weak policies, but through choices recounted on the record by insiders: stifling efforts to link risks to facilities out of fear of industry backlash and media scrutiny; quashing a proposal for smokestack monitoring to avoid litigation and controversy; holding off on actions out of “political sensitivities.” We called our project “Sacrifice Zones” to describe how vulnerable communities bear disproportionate health costs so that consumers across the country can benefit from the products manufactured in these places. We showed how polluters, taking the path of least resistance, wind up in states that prioritize business over health; in predominantly Black census tracts, the estimated cancer risk is more than double that of majority-white tracts.
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