Environmental Justice Day highlights human cost of pollution and climate change

Story Body

Hazy air, contaminated water, and hazardous waste hurt families and turn communities into unlivable spaces.

They’re not hard to find: America is dotted with communities burdened by the runoff of our unsustainable, climate-changing approach to industrial waste and greenhouse gas emissions. Sadly, there are communities here in Washington state also shouldering the brunt of these human-made harms. Overwhelmingly, these communities are low-income or have a high proportion of people of color or Indigenous descent.

The connection between climate change and pollution to harm in the environment is sometimes easier to see than what’s happening to people’s health. That daily exposure can cause chronic issues with breathing, headaches or nausea, as well as cancer, kidney failure, reproductive issues and birth defects.

That’s an injustice, and it’s why Gov. Jay Inslee signed a proclamation recognizing Environmental Justice Day. States like Washington have stepped up more in recent years to advance environmental justice, and much work remains here and at the national level. Governments need to include environmental justice principles in strategic planning; empower overburdened and vulnerable communities, as well as Tribes, in decision-making; and establish effective ways to track and improve environmental justice.

Read the full story on the governor's Medium page.

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