One reason why coronavirus is hitting black Americans the hardest

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Library of Congress/Christophe Haubursin

Coronavirus, pollution, and racism is a lethal combination.

Across the US, black people are dying from Covid-19 at disproportionately high rates. While there are many different factors at play behind the stark racial disparities — there’s one possible reason that’s been lurking in the air for decades: pollution.

Decades of segregation and housing discrimination has put black Americans at greater risk of living near chemical plants, factories and highways, exposing them to higher levels of air pollutants. These pollutants have had a chronically negative impact on health, leading to conditions like hypertension and asthma. Now, those same diseases are associated with more severe cases of Covid-19.

According to Robert Bullard, a professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University, the combination of racist policies, pollution, and coronavirus, is a lethal mix. “All these things converge, and then you get this pandemic, you get this heat seeking missile that is targeting, that is zeroing in on the most vulnerable community. And when it targets that community, what we end up with is a death bomb.”

Watch the video above to find out more about the connections between toxic air, race, and coronavirus — and how it’s all converged in one community in Louisiana called “cancer alley.”

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Author: Ranjani Chakraborty

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