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US pesticide regulation is failing the hardest-hit communities. It’s time to fix it.
Brookings
2024.01.22
The environmental justice movement has come a long way over the past 50 years. There is now wide recognition that all people and communities, regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, have a right to equal protection and equitable enjoyment of the benefits provided by environmental laws and regulations.
Yet the increasingly well-documented reality is that people of color and low-income communities in the United States and around the world continue to shoulder the societal burden of harmful pollution.
As highlighted in our recently published study, a troubling example of ongoing environmental injustice is the disproportionate impact these communities suffer from pesticides, among the most widespread environmental pollutants.
That unsettling truth was driven home recently by the California Environmental Protection Agency, which found that the pollution burden showing the greatest racial, ethnic, and income disparities in the state is pesticide use. In other words, in California, if someone wanted to guess your ethnic or racial background based only on your proximity to a harmful pollutant, knowing your exposure to pesticides would give them the highest likelihood of success.
To facilitate efforts to address that alarming disparity, our study offers a blueprint for how this administration can begin to fix some of the longstanding issues that have facilitated unjust and disproportionate exposures to these harmful chemicals.