Wednesday, April 6, 2016

DETROIT MAKES YOU SICK On NEWSWEEK!!!


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RIVER ROUGE, DETROIT, WAYNE COUNTY, MI is an industrial suburb of DETROIT with a population of just under 8,000 people, and many of the people who live in the city of  RIVER ROUGE are potentially being made to be deathly ill by the very city in which they live!!!

It’s dirty in River Rouge, and everybody there knows it. The way the air smells, and the gas flares, coal piles and smokestacks around every corner don’t let you forget. There are 52 sites of heavy industry within a 3-mile radius; 22 of these either produce over 25,000 pounds or handle more than 10,000 pounds of toxic chemical waste, putting them on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory Program. For years, the area has also been “out of compliance” for sulfur dioxide, meaning there’s more SO 2 —a known contributor to asthma—in the air than federal rules allow. The state says it’s working on it. 
MICHIGAN DEPARTMENT Of ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY (MDEQ) Spokeswoman LYNN FIELDER (MDEQ, the same department blamed for the disaster in Flint, where lead was allowed to remain in the drinking water at levels high enough to poison children), says;
 they’ve been “working with companies to get them to reduce their emissions. It’s been a difficult negotiation. It involves changes in operation,” meaning polluters will likely need to install new equipment, a prospect costly enough to make them balk.
Some of the biggest SO 2 emitters in the area are two postwar-era, coal-fired power plants owned by DTE Energy, located a few miles apart. One sits in River Rouge, and in 2011 it was ranked the ninth-worst power plant in the country for health outcomes in communities of color by the NAACP. Combined, the two plants pump out 34,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each year, or the weight, in pollution, of a modestly sized cruise ship. Getting DTE Energy to reduce emissions has been a struggle for the regulatory agency. 
MDEQ's LYNN FIELDER continues;
“They are reluctant. We are continuing discussions with them.” In the meantime, MDEQ granted the plants a permit last year to carry on business as usual.

According to the latest state data, more than 15 percent of Detroit’s adults have asthma, a 29 percent higher rate than the rest of Michigan. Detroiters are hospitalized for their asthma three times more frequently than other Michiganders. Being black ups the rate significantly: Black Detroiters are hospitalized for asthma at a rate more than 150 percent that of their white neighbors—and Detroit is 83 percent black. Most of the mini-cities ringed around the heavy industry south of Detroit are majority-black too. Poverty compounds the problem—it’s not easy managing a chronic illness when you’re making $24,000 a year, the average household income for black Detroit households.
So many people around River Rouge have asthma that there’s a bootleg market for inhalers (street value: $15 to $20 a pop) and the blister packs of albuterol, the stimulant medicine that fuels nebulizers ($10 a dose). Buying on the block is easier than going to a doctor, especially since the nearest asthma clinic is at least a town away or more, depending where you live. The closest emergency room, also at least 20 minutes away, is always full. The city has notoriously shoddy public transportation, and if you don’t own a car, a trip to the doctor can take most of your day. If you have kids, you’ll also need child care and a day off work. Meanwhile, you’re struggling to breathe, and that $15 inhaler starts to look pretty good.

38-year-old River Rouge resident JACQUELINE CASON didn’t expect to be crawling down the stairs of her own damn house. 
When Cason lived in MISSISSIPPI, her asthma was annoying but manageable—a puff from an inhaler now and again. Then, just over a year ago, she moved into a little modular home on a quiet street in River Rouge, Michigan, a tiny city of 7,000 that kisses the southern edge of Detroit. Now she’s awakened in the morning, three days a week, at least, and sometimes seven, by an asthma attack. She gasps, desperately sipping the air but inhaling little or none. “It’s like being a fish out of water,” she says.
When it hits her, Cason’s lungs fill with mucus while her esophagus walls swell nearly shut. Her diaphragm responds by contracting faster, pressing on her lungs, desperate to catch some air, making her gasp rapidly, violently. Her chest feels like someone is sitting on it, collapsing her sternum toward her spine. Minutes become enemies, and letting two or three pass is too many. So when she forgets to leave her rescue inhaler by her bed, she gropes and crawls down the stairs to find it. It’s the sort of thing that no one would consider ordinary—unless you've been living in the industrial suburbs south of downtown Detroit a long time. Then it passes for routine.

 In 2011, founder of the UNIVERSITY Of MICHIGAN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PROGRAM Dr. PAUL MOHAI mapped Detroit’s public schools over air pollution data. He found 82 percent of black students went to schools in the most polluted parts of the city, while 44 percent of white students did. What’s more, children in those pollution-exposed schools scored lower on standardized tests. Air pollution has already been shown to cause cognitive delays in children and an array of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as early birth and low birth weight, which can also impair a child’s brain development down the road. Of course, having severe chronic asthma and the sleep apnea that often comes with it probably doesn’t help student scores either.
Michigan tried to do something about environmental racism a few years ago: An expert panel was assembled in 2008, and it was disbanded in 2010 after issuing suggestions to the state on how to directly address the problem of poor black people being poisoned and ignored. The state set up a grievance line.
Dr. PAUL MOHAI says;
 “I’m not aware that there was any follow-up action with that plan.” 
He and the two other academics on the panel suggested the city’s health department talk to its environmental department about environmental justice issues on a regular basis. That never happened. The only positions in the Michigan Health and Human Services agency that deal at all with the intersection of pollution and health were eliminated when state budgets were gutted a few years ago. 
The health department has an asthma program, and the environment department has an air toxics program, but they don’t talk to each other. And whether you’re a person of color living in Detroit, or Flint, or Vernon, California, where the Exide battery factory is ruining communities made up primarily of Latino families, you won’t get much help from the federal government: 
The EPA denies 95 percent of civil rights claims against polluters made by communities of color.
JACQUELINE CASON says;
“How can you ask to increase something like that, when people are already living here, as if it isn’t enough? When is somebody going to say, ‘No, hello, there’s people living right in the vicinity?’”  
Air pollution, it turns out, can change your genes, so the pollution you breathe can damage your children and grandchildren too. 
In 2008, Dr. KARI NADEAU was finishing her pediatric residency at STANFORD UNIVERSITY, studying the connection between underactive regulatory T cells—a hereditary trait—and childhood asthma. One day, she caught a PBS Nova episode on the exploding field of epigenetics, the ways our specific environment can modify our genes, and how those changes can be passed to our offspring, their offspring and so on, and she was struck with an idea. She went back to her research data, and this time organized her subjects by ZIP code. A pattern became exceedingly obvious: All the children with underactive regulatory T cells lived in FRESNO, CA.
FRESNO is the most polluted city in the entire state of CALIFORNIA, due to a deadly combination of diesel exhaust and agricultural pesticides. 
Most residents are immigrant farm workers and people of color, many living below the poverty line. And lots of them have asthma.
STANFORD Professor and Physician Dr. KARI NADEAU says;
“The babies are born with it. The babies’ lungs never have a chance to develop normally in the womb because their mothers live in a high-pollution area. When a pregnant woman takes a breath, the tiny molecules of air pollution pass through her lungs and into her bloodstream, slipping into the blood cells—which flow to her fetus, delaying and damaging its lung development. The fetus’s lungs may grow fewer alveoli, the grape-like clusters in which air is taken and oxygen is separated and diffused to the blood."
In other words, the babies are born with diminished lung capacity. (Plus, she adds, evidence suggests that lungs continue to develop until we’re about 25 years old; she suspects air pollution will be stunting alveoli development the whole time.)
Perhaps more alarming, those same pollution molecules slip into the blood that feeds ovaries and testicles. If those are altered, so are the offspring created by the eggs and sperm those organs produce. In fact, Nadeau was able to infer that the genes of her Fresno patients were fundamentally altered so that they would be more likely to develop asthma and allergies. And of course, those genes could be passed down to their children, and their children’s children, even if those later generations have moved away and are no longer exposed to the pollution.

PLEASE give a FULL READ to NEWSWEEK Journalist ZOE SCHLANGER, who travelled to the city of RIVER ROUGE MI,  in an attempt to unravel the truth behind why DETROIT MAKES YOU SICK.

-CCG


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