Minorities face greatest risk from chemical disasters, study says

Minorities face greatest risk from chemical disasters, study says
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Black people and other minorities face the most exposure to chemical disasters, according to a new study.

Three environmental groups released a report Thursday that finds 134 million people around the country live near a chemical facility. But black people are 75 percent more likely, and Latino people are 60 percent more likely to live in these areas. [Read the report.]

The report comes from the Environmental Justice and Health Alliance for Chemical Policy Reform, Coming Clean, and Center for Effective Government.

"Chemical facilities, many of which endanger thousands of people, continue using highly hazardous chemicals even when safer alternatives are available, effective, and affordable," the report said. 

"While some companies have adopted safer alternatives, thousands of similar facilities have not," it added.

The study measured the demographics of neighborhoods near chemical facilities and found that the people living there tend to be minorities and low-income people who are 50 percent more likely to live in poverty. 

The people in these neighborhoods have home values that are 33 percent below and incomes that are 22 percent below the national averages, the study found.

The environmental groups called for stronger chemical regulations to protect the people in these neighborhoods. The report suggests that chemical facilities be required to determine whether safer alternatives can be used instead of hazardous chemicals. It also recommends that facilities adopt these safer chemicals when they are "available, effective, and affordable."

But the environmental groups said lawmakers and regulators have "missed obvious opportunities" to improve the safety of chemical facilities.

"Simple changes could protect millions of Americans, reduce costs and liabilities for companies, and modernize chemical facilities and regulations," according to the report.