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Healthy Communities

Child suffering from asthma.

There’s something in the air, and Kevin Hamilton knows it all too well. A respiratory therapist in the San Joaquin Valley, Hamilton has watched his patients and his family struggle with the effects of fine particle and ozone pollution for decades.

“They are convinced the air quality is affecting their health and so am I,” he said. “Their asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases are acting up more.”

The fireball that followed the derailment and explosion of two trains, one carrying Bakken crude oil, on December 30, 2013, outside Casselton, N.D.

Forty-seven people, including a four-year-old child, died in July 2013 when a train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac Mégantic, Quebec. Sixty-three tank cars derailed and of these, 59 punctured or ripped open and spilled oil, which ignited, exploded and destroyed the downtown. This catastrophe awoke the public to a 4,000 percent increase in the amount of crude oil shipped by rail and the incredible dangers posed by these crude oil trains to communities. 

An industrial incinerator frames a church playground in Midlothian, Texas.

(First published in the Huffington Post.)

Joe Poole Lake is a popular destination for Dallas and Fort Worth residents looking for a weekend escape to the great outdoors. Lined with barbecue grills, hiking trails and sandy beaches, the 7,400-acre lake and its wooden welcome sign invite endless opportunities to relax and unwind.

Smog covers the city of Los Angeles.

California cities top an unfortunate list—the nation's worst places to breathe. The Golden State claimed all five of the top slots for the highest air pollution in the American Lung Association's 2014 State of the Air Report. Sadly, the report was nothing new. Los Angeles, and cities in the San Joaquin Valley like Bakersfield and Fresno, have been in the top five since the ALA started its annual reporting in 2000.

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