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Environmental Racism Shifts the Costs of Industry to the Poor

Author: Robert D Bullard [Director of the Environmental Justice Resource Centre at Clark Atlanta University in the USA], Mail & Guardian [Johannesburg], Published on: 24 August 2001

Environmental racism affects individuals, groups or communities differentially, based on race or colour. It combines with public policies and industry practices to provide benefits for corporations, while shifting the costs to people of colour. It influences local land use, the enforcement of environmental regulations, the siting of industry and the areas where people of colour live, work and play...Environmental racism manifests itself in the sub-standard treatment of workers. Thousands of farm workers and their families are exposed to dangerous pesticides on the job and in labour camps. These workers endure sub-standard wages and working conditions. But environmental racism also extends to the exploitative work environment of garment district sweatshops, the microelectronic industry and extraction industries. A disproportionately large share of the workers who suffer under sub-standard occupational and safety conditions are immigrants, women and people of colour. [article extracted from paper prepared for the World Conference on Racism and Public Policy in Durban from September 3-5, sponsored by United Nations Research Institute for Social Development]

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