I have found that heavy industry doesn't just happen, it seems to occur in areas where there is less perceived resistance.
When my daughter was just 6 weeks old, there was a steam emergency at the local oil refinery that triggered a near total shutdown. Some citizens reported visible substances on their cars. I realized then that I live in an environmental justice community. I became concerned and called the local natural resources agency.
As a healthcare provider, I had a duty to act. I subsequently formed the Delaware City Environmental Coalition and we have done the first stage of a two stage independent air monitoring project. We have also conducted community health surveys. I have found that heavy industry doesn't just happen, it seems to occur in areas where there is less perceived resistance.
My town has long been plagued by air pollution. The local refinery was ranked 7th nationally in 2009 for on-site releases of all chemicals and the local plastics plant ranked 2nd nationally for on-site vinyl chloride releases in 2009. Out of 38 Superfund sites in the state, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website, 3 are within a few mile radius around my town of 1900 people.
A few pollutants in our community are of particular concern. My county is a "non-attainment zone" for fine particulate matter. Refineries and heavy industry along the eastern corridor between New York and Washington D.C., plus heavy traffic lead to very high ozone levels in the summer. When I have researched pollution further, vinyl chloride (PVC) manufacturing seems to be the most toxic substance in our area.
Clean air, like clean water, is NOT a funding option to cut. Clean air and water are integral to human health. It cannot be argued that keeping the environment clean is "too expensive", as the price of not acting and the subsequent medical morbidity and mortality is too high.