Authors: Green For All
Atlanta is recognized as one of the capitals of African-American culture. In 2007, though, it received a less pleasant title: "Asthma Capital" of the United States.
One out of every six African-American children has asthma, compared to one in ten children overall. There's a reason for that gap. A 2002 study found that "sixty-eight percent of African Americans live within 30 miles of a coal plant, as opposed to 56 percent of whites."
In Atlanta, the EPA is today holding the third in a series of public hearings on a proposed rule which would, for the first time, establish a baseline for the amount of mercury and other pollutants that can be emitted from power plants - pollutants which lead to asthma, and much more. The Agency is hearing testimony from local residents, businesses, faith leaders and advocacy organizations to assess the impact that this rule could have on the community.
One thing is clear: establishing a baseline for pollutants will have a clear impact on health. As we've documented at our site CostOfDelay.org, over 3,300 people have died prematurely since the proposed new standard was announced. And American children have suffered over 21,000 preventable asthma attacks.
If you want to share your thoughts on this important issue today, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light has a list of activities around the hearing. To learn more about the link between poverty, race and pollution from power plants, Earthjustice has a good overview. To learn more about the rule itself, visit the EPA website.
This year, Atlanta dropped to 13th on the list of asthma capitals. Good news for the residents there - but it just means the worst problems have moved elsewhere. What it makes clear is that the problem is systemic and pervasive - and requires a national rule like the one the EPA proposes in order to preserve the health of our children and our communities.