Air pollution is a major problem for Chicagoans, specifically in lower income neighborhoods that are near industrially zoned areas. Having grown up and lived here almost my entire life, I never physically have noticed that our air is dirty. However, friends who have left for extended periods of time and returned have told me that their is a significant drop in air quality when they come home. This is highly subjective, and obviously living in a city which built itself industrially lends itself to having more air pollution than a rural farm town. Yet there are preventable elements to this equation that Chicago has only recently started addressing, starting with the coal plants in Little Village and Pilsen.
According to the Chicago Tribune in 2012, the shutting down of the Crawford and Fisk plants ended Chicago’s reign as the only major city in the United States with two active coal plants within it’s city limits. Shutting them down certainly will lower the carbon emissions from our city which pollute our city and our planet. This also helps the communities such as the one around Perez Elementary in Pilsen. In 2011 there were three time periods where the lead content was above levels the federal government considers dangerous. To have this kind of poison exposure to our youth was outrageous and one could easily argue that it took longer for these plants to shut down because they were in low income communities.
To conclude, our lowest income communities have been the most at risk from ridiculous amounts of carbon dioxide, lead, and other elements that contribute to global warming, and local sicknesses. The first step has been completed, to take down these sources of pollution and poison. The next step is to implement new strategies into these areas to reverse the effects. Things like community gardens and planting more trees should be municipal efforts for these communities that have been neglected environmentally for so long.
Brown, Kate, and Andrew Jameton. Public Health Implications of Urban Agriculture. Vol. 21. S.l.: Oxford UP, 2007. Journal of Public Health Policy, 2000. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
Hawthorne, Michael. “High Levels of Toxic Lead Found in Air outside Chicago School.” Tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Chicago Tribune, 01 Apr. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2016.
Wernau, Julie. “Closure of Chicago’s Crawford, Fisk Electric Plants Ends Coal Era.” Tribunedigital-chicagotribune. Chicago Tribune, 30 Aug. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.