Though toxic chemical pollution impacts us all, Black, Brown, and Indigenous people are disproportionately exposed to toxic chemicals in the air, drinking water, the workplace, and from everyday products.
A broken system, rooted in racism, sexism, and classism, has enabled industrial polluters and waste disposal companies to place toxic facilities in communities of color and low-income communities at disproportionate rates. For instance, PVC plastic plants have poisoned the air and contaminated the water in “cancer alley”— the highly industrialized area along the Mississippi in Louisiana —in some cases even forcing entire African American communities to be relocated. And many working-class jobs, such as firefighting and industrial work, come with extra chemical hazards.
Women also face special impacts, with cancers such as breast cancer possibly linked to toxic chemical exposures.
When a pregnant woman is exposed to certain chemicals, it affects not just her body, but also the developing fetus, potentially causing lifelong, irreversible harm. Some chemicals can even end up in women’s breast milk. This means that when women are exposed to toxic chemicals, the effects can be intergenerational. And this greater toxic burden is compounded for women of color.
Every family deserves the opportunity for a healthy life—no matter where they call home. To do this, we must advance equitable solutions that allow everyone to breathe clean air, drink safe water, and live and work in pollution-free communities that are safe, healthy, and thriving.
- Using our investigative research to shine a light on communities impacted by pollution from chemical manufacturers and waste disposal facilities
- Advocating for safer chemical policies for products such as cosmetics marketed to people of color, which often contain some of the most worrisome ingredients
- Leveraging our retailer report card to help drive toxic chemicals out of products sold at dollar store chains and other low-cost retailers
- Campaigning to make sure everyone can buy safe products, regardless of price point
- Working with builders and government agencies to develop stronger protections against toxics in affordable housing
- Educating government officials with our scientific research, leading to real-world protections for communities that have historically lacked such protections