Economic Find: Corporate Toxics

The imminent threat of climate change and the pervasive toxins threatening our health and well-being are forcing many Americans to become much more aware of our environmental problems.  But in order to take a hard look at the challenges we face and devise solutions that ensure the future of our planet and the health of our communities, we need to look beyond the usual environmental debates and begin asking:

Who is most at risk?

According to researchers at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) at the University of Southern California, the answer is low-income communities of color.  The chart above spotlights the ten corporations from PERI’s Toxic 100 list that have the highest shares of racial and ethnic minorities in their toxic scores.  In all of these cases, minorities experience more than half of the human health impacts from the firms’ toxic air releases.  This chart also shows that blacks experience the largest share of health risks from the entire set of Toxic 100 firms, from other large publicly traded firms (not on the list), and from all other firms in the EPA’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators database.



To learn more, including some possible strategies for securing a clean and safe environment for all Americans, read Justice in the Air.



Created by Member Economist Sue Holmberg



Justice in the Air co-authored by PERI’s Michael Ash, James Boyce & Grace Chang and PERE’s Manuel Pastor, Justin Scoggins, & Jennifer Tran.