This Washington Post article highlights the importance of emphasizing regenerative health solutions, particularly for communities hit hardest by toxic exposures. We’re learning more and more how much chronic disease is less the result of individual lifestyle choices and more to do with exposures to the myriad toxins that permeate the modern world. When we talk about the chronic disease epidemic, what we’re really trying to expose is the host of crony policies that make this epidemic happen. It’s the EPA greenlighting dangerous chemicals; it’s the USDA allowing big companies to subvert organic standards; it’s the FDA threatening access to supplements that can help us detoxify when we’re exposed to the toxins the government allows to be in use.
Gordon Plaza in New Orleans is a sad example of the environmental injustice that can make us so sick. This was a housing subdivision that was built on top of a garbage dump in the 1970s that eventually became a Superfund site, but no one told the Black homeowners that were encouraged to move in. In the untreated soil, the EPA found 149 toxic contaminants, 49 of them linked to cancer. There were elevated levels of lead, dioxins, hydrocarbons, and arsenic. These chemicals can cause cancer, heart problems, reduced lung function, and developmental problems in children.
This is just one example. A Harvard study found that a small increase in soot air pollution is associated with a 15% increase in the COVID-19 death rate. Simultaneously, the EPA announced they were waving multiple environmental laws that reduce air pollution for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19. Air pollution increases the risk of chronic and acute respiratory diseases, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. While this pollution affects almost all of us, communities placed near the industrial plants that produce this pollution get it the worst; they are paying the steepest price for the government cronyism that allows industry to get away with this.