The reasons date back decades, and even hundreds of years, to policy and practice that influenced where people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds lived.
They include everything from government-sanctioned "redlining" of neighborhoods where people could get loans to buy homes to the location of large highways and infrastructure projects that, for just one example, expose certain communities to more vehicle pollution.
LEARN MORE: Explore the Equity Report
The resources we're sharing here include academic research, investigations by journalists and our ongoing news stories and investigations around the topic of unequal environmental risks.
Come back often as our journalists delve into the data about inequities in our cities and highlight potential solutions over the coming weeks and months. We'll be adding the latest coverage here.
Our Investigations and News Reports
IN CHICAGO: University Park residents with lead in drinking water forced to use bottled water for nearly 2 years
Lead in water is a problem across the nation that potentially will be addressed by President Joe Biden's proposed infrastructure plan, but it continues to plague families' homes across Illinois. The ABC 7 I-Team investigated one of the hardest-hit communities where 7,000 residents have to drink bottled water.
IN LOS ANGELES: Watts mother-daughter duo fight for environmental justice
Linda Cleveland and Jaquelyn Badejo are a mother-daughter duo advancing environmental justice. Badejo's awareness of environmental injustices began as a young girl growing up in Watts.
IN SAN FRANCISCO: New study warns of racial disparity in Bay Area air pollution's impact on childhood asthma
New sensors and satellite technology has yielded some disturbing data on the unequal effects of traffic generated air pollution in the Bay Area.
IN PHILADELPHIA: COVID-19, pollution and race: new health concerns for Nicetown
According to a nationwide public health study, people in areas with high pollution levels are more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19 and that is devastating news for some of our most vulnerable communities.
Resources for learning more about inequities in environmental risks
Unequal Protection: Environmental Justice and Communities of Color. . Robert Bullard, ed., Random House, 1996.. https://www,abc7.com
The Groundwater Approach. A report by The Racial Equity Institute about its explanation of its Groundwater metaphor, which "is designed to help practitioners at all levels internalize the reality that we live in a racially structured society, and that that is what causes racial inequity." https://www.racialequityinstitute.com/groundwaterapproach
The Racial Equity Institute. An alliance of organizers, leaders and trainers devoted to creating racially-equitable organizations and systems across the United States. The organization's web site and blog include countless resources and opportunities to learn. https://www.racialequityinstitute.com
EJSCREEN. A mapping tool by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allowing to explore the racial differences in where environmental threats are located and where people live. https://ejscreen.epa.gov/mapper/
Environmental Justice at the EPA. A compendium of resources from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about equality issues related to environmental risks. https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice
Watered Down Justice: Communities of Color More Likely to Suffer Drinking Water Violations For Years. Report by the National Resources Defense Council. https://www.nrdc.org/media/2019/190924
People of Color Breathe More Hazardous Air. A 2021 report by the New York Times about how researchers have uncovered "stark disparities between white people and minorities across thousands of categories of pollution, including trucks, industry, agriculture and even restaurants." https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/28/climate/air-pollution-minorities.html
The origins of environmental justice.. Report by National Geographic in 2021. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/environmental-justice-origins-why-finally-getting-the-attention-it-deserves