University School - Hunting Valley
Instructor: Scott Boehnen
Redlining was Banned 70 Years Ago, But its Effects are Still Present Today
Redlining was Banned 70 Years Ago, But its Effects are Still Present Today
The air quality in redlined Cleveland communities causes harmful effects on the body's cardiovascular and respiratory systems because pollutants are embedded in the atmosphere. Contaminants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter of 2.5 microns or less (PM 2.5) are implanted into the lungs and arteries from industrial emissions. This causes severe cardiovascular and respiratory problems among the residents of low-income neighborhoods. Redlined areas in Cleveland have increased pulmonary diseases and asthma diagnoses than prosperous areas. Residences in redlined areas also experience a significant decrease in the average life expectancy caused by the unhealthy amounts of pollution and diseases within these redlined communities. According to The Digital Scholarship Lab and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Neighborhood A8 is a non-redlined neighborhood in Cleveland that experiences a very healthy environment for its occupants. Only 5.9% of its population has pulmonary diseases, and 8.8% is diagnosed with asthma. Neighborhood D15 is a D-grade redlined neighborhood in central Cleveland that experiences much worse health problems. Nearly 12.6% of the neighborhood has pulmonary diseases and 12% are diagnosed with asthma. The life expectancy in neighborhood A8 is roughly 79.8 years, while its 68.7 years in Neighborhood D15 (The Digital Scholarship Lab). This 11-year difference is no coincidence. Redlined communities experience poorer health because of their worse air quality. For example, Brenda Lee Elkins-Wylie grew up living with her mother in a redlined Cleveland community where she developed asthma from pollution in the air. Her asthma was so intense that she was limited to the indoors for most of her life. As a kid, Elkins-Wylie's Asthma was so bad she had to miss school. "One year, I missed two months of school," she said, "It was really hard at times" (Elkins-Wylie quoted in Comeriato). The effects of poor air quality and redlining changed Elkins-Wylie's life forever. Redlining is a major contributor to cardiac health problems in greater Cleveland by polluting impoverished areas with targeted industrialization that have severe health effects on the current residents. Redlining in Cleveland's neighborhoods has increased PM 2.5 and NO2 pollution which puts residents at risk of cardiac and respiratory problems. These risks can be mitigated with practicable measures like emission policies and air cleaners which will also decrease pollution and lower health threats.
Redlined areas experience a much greater risk of cardiac heart problems due to a dangerous amount of pollution embedded in Cleveland neighborhoods. The effects of air quality cause major problems with the respiratory system in the city's low-income areas. The primary elements in air pollution that cause lung issues are NO2 emissions, PM 2.5, smog, and diesel particulate matter. According to Darryl Fears at The Washington Post, pollutants irritate human airways, which decreases lung function and increases the risk of developing asthma. Asthma can initiate asthma attacks, strokes, and heart damage. Residents living in redlined areas are 2.4 times more likely to visit the emergency room for asthma than higher income areas (Manke). PM 2.5 is also severely harmful to the respiratory system, as it implants deeply in the lungs and arteries (Fears). PM 2.5 has long-term health effects like chronic bronchitis, impaired lung function, and higher chances of getting lung cancer according to the Department of Health ("Fine Particles"). Asthma yields an Insufficient amount of oxygen in the bloodstream which puts a strain on the heart according to Matthew Hoffman at WebMD (Hoffman). Residents exposed to asthma in redlined areas are severely more at risk of chronic heart diseases than those in affluent places. Heart disease is the leading disease in adult fatality, and according to Kara Manke at Berkeley News, heart-related diseases are 58.6% more prevalent in D-grade communities than A-grade communities (Manke). Industrial redlining made low-income areas more dangerous and less suitable for healthy living because of the health risk in air quality. New York Times reporters Gretchen Kroen and Zachary Smith state, "Patients with the greatest number of cardiac risk factors and worst health outcomes were living today in the same geographic areas designated with the lowest lending scores many decades earlier" (Kroen). Citizens living in D-grade neighborhoods experience greater cardiac risks Kroen explains. The health effects of air-polluted communities are in stark contrast to high-income communities. Air pollution in redlined areas puts its subjects at major risk for respiratory problems, which leads to more serious cardiovascular problems. To protect Clevenders who are currently suffering the health effects of air pollution, plans to mitigate health risks must be addressed. Solutions should be implemented into residents' lives to quickly reduce their pollution exposure. Controlling the pollution exposure of residents in Cleveland can effectively decrease the health risks following air pollution. With the help of air-cleaning appliances like air purifiers, indoor living spaces would be freer of air contaminants. Portable air purifiers intake the surrounding air which flows through a dense filter. The particles in the air get left in the filter and clean pure air is dispensed to the environment again (Carlsten). Air cleaning systems come in different forms, targeting different air contaminants. The most common purifiers target particles like pollen, dust, and bacteria, while other air-cleaning systems target PM 2.5 and NO2. The HEPA filter helps improve air quality by removing 40% to 72% of the PM 2.5 concentrations (Carlsten). The effectiveness of air purifiers is defined by their clean air delivery rate. Other purifying systems are not as successful in this category, like carbon filters. Carbon-based HEPA cleaners that target NO2 pollutants are only 20% effective in removing contaminants, according to Christopher Carlsten, a researcher at the European Respiratory Journal (Carlsten). Carbon filters work by removing particles in a process called adsorption. Adsorption captures carbon through an activated carbon filter. The particles stick to the adhesive-activated carbon and expel purified air ("How Does Activated"). A study conducted in Shanghai, China shows the effectiveness of air purifiers. Air purifiers were placed in 35 different healthy college students' rooms for 48 hours. Particulate matter 2.5 levels were recorded. Nearly 57% of the particulate matter was filtered out in the rooms and airway function was documented to have improved (Rajagopalan). This study shows the effectiveness and importance of implementing air purifiers in homes in redlined areas. Air purifiers have the potential to significantly decrease the health risk of pollution in redlined communities.
Another, more complex way Cleveland can protect the health of residents, is by creating clean neighborhoods partnered with community health centers. A community health center deeply rooted within a neighborhood would add supplemental health support in redlined areas. This additional protection would increase community health and reduce cardiovascular and respiratory problems. The NRP Group is a multifamily real estate group that developed a 52-unit community in Glenville Cleveland. The community is partnered with University Hospitals to provide inexpensive houses to mixed-income families. The UH provides the NRP group community health services and wellness education programs ("University Hospitals"). The Chief Scientific Officer at University Hospitals Health System, Daniel Simon, states, "At UH, improving the health of the people we serve and the communities in which they live is our priority" (Simon quoted in "University Hospitals"). University Hospitals provides the community with important services that intend to protect its residents from the effects of redlining. By establishing new communities that are linked with health centers, residents will be more protected from cardiovascular and respiratory problems. The health risks of redlining will be mitigated and the community air quality increased. However, air purifiers and community health centers only mitigate harm; they do not prevent harm. To begin preventing harm in the long term, Cleveland needs to return to nature and live up to its one-time name of the "Forest City" Cleveland was given the name "Forest City" because of its flourishing green trees that covered the area ("Forest City"). Cleveland's circumstance has since been depleted due to industrialization and ignorance of environmental health risks. In the past decades, the city has amassed many lively factories, highways, and construction, which contribute to excessive pollution. It's important to not overlook the origins of the emissions because they will continue to have a lasting effect if not addressed. Polluting sources must recognize their emissions, seek to create a plan, and execute an effective way to limit their pollution. Efforts demonstrated during the national Clean Air Act of 1970 can provide important strategies used to mitigate air pollution in Cleveland. Policies like the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) were established to reduce emissions in the city. The BACT forced companies to reduce their pollution in the most feasible way possible. The policy targeted the source of pollution and forced companies to cut emissions which not only reduced industry emissions, but preserved air quality, improved health, and protected the atmosphere's future health (Wynne). Another approach used in the Clean Air Act is the pollution permit. The Title V permit was established by the government and regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency to limit harmful particles contaminating the air. The permit dictates the total pollution a corporation can emit, and must be renewed after five years (Wynne). This forces large polluters to make efforts in reducing their emissions. The Clean Air Act offers successful approaches that can be applied to local circumstances in Cleveland, particularly in formerly redlined neighborhoods. Pressuring companies to consider their pollution and take action in mitigating pollution through policies and permits is an effective way to reduce emissions from the source.
Supporting legislation, and making personal choices that reduce an individual's carbon footprint are ways that ordinary Cleveland can work for environmental justice, and reduce the legacy of redlining. There are steps individuals can take to reduce pollution and the health problems it creates. But the history of redlining teaches us that these health problems are the result of collective actions including the actions of prejudice. Therefore the solutions need to be collective. Solving the problems we create is the only way to achieve justice for those impacted by racial redlining. Cleveland residents like Elkins-Wylie were unfairly exposed to the effects of redlining. Working to mitigate the results of racial discrimination is the first step to getting justice for Elkins-Wylie. Establishing new policies to mitigate the polluters will eradicate the source and make improvements in the long term. If residents living in redlining areas pursue air purity, their efforts will significantly improve their air quality. This will lower the health risks in the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. When all measures are in place, justice will be achieved for those racially discriminated and Cleveland's redlined neighborhoods will be safer for its residents.