Facing the Facts: Environmental Justice | Watch full special

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Monday, April 22, 2024
Facing the Facts: Environmental Justice | Watch full special
In "Facing the Facts: Environmental Justice," we explore how people across America are fighting for better air quality and healthy living standards.

Across the U.S., Americans are fighting for better air quality and healthy living standards where they live.

In "Facing the Facts: Environmental Justice," we take you to those cities where you'll hear from residents working to better their communities.

Here are some of the people you'll meet and the places you'll go when you watch our special.


In Chicago, Angela Tova knows firsthand what pollution, especially from flames and smoke of nearby steel mills, can do to a family.

"Two out of the four of us suffered from very severe asthma growing up," she said. "You know, that's not a connection that you make at the time. Not a lot of criticism back then of the pollution impacts of steel production."

Watch to find out how Tovar and others are working to implement policy changes to protect communities that are still centers of industry in the city.


Neighbors in Chester, a city of 32,000 people, are standing up against major polluters in their town. That includes the country's largest incinerator, where the equivalent of 2 million peoples' trash is burned every day.

Shutting down that incinerator is just one of the missions of Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living, or CRCQL for short. They were the first activist group to apply the Civil Rights Act in an environmental racism lawsuit against the Department of Environmental Protection.

Though the group has many wins, pollution continues to pop up. Our data team discovered 10 polluting facilities within a three-mile stretch of Chester along the Delaware River.

Residents have a feeling why they all chose this city, "There's no doubt about it. They picked this community because it was primarily Black."

Hear their stories as this small community fights some big time polluters.


In Houston, Texans in a mainly Black and Hispanic neighborhood say they're dealing with poor drainage issues that trap them in their homes every time it rains.

"When it's raining really, really heavy and the ditch in the front of the neighborhood starts to overflow, it floods us into our neighborhood," said Kourtney Revels. "So we can see instances where heavy rain will stop us from being able to come in and out of our community."

Advocates say that's because of the drainage infrastructure on that side of the town. According to the city of Houston, about 80 percent of open ditches are located in northeast Houston, an area made up of 97 percent of Black and Hispanic residents.

Watch the special to find out how relief may be coming to residents.


Summer is just a few months away, and those significantly impacted by the heat are young students at schools with limited access to outdoor green spaces.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) set a goal for all campuses to have at least 30 percent green space by 2035. But the Greening Index from 2022 shows just 16 percent of schools in the district meet that percentage.

We learn from a group advocating for more collaboration on which green projects are prioritized and highlighting some of the most "disadvantaged environmental justice school sites in the district."

Meanwhile, up the coast on the shores of San Francisco's iconic Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood, work is being done to restore a previously toxic area into something so much more.

An old ship building yard will soon be a place for families to get out on the San Francisco Bay with kayaks and canoes. There will also be a farmers market, a food pavilion, and 2,500 units of affordable housing.

Watch as we show work being done to turn toxic areas into community spaces.

New York

In our country's biggest city, it's no surprise that its roads are packed with heavy traffic 24-hours a day.

Meanwhile, an elementary school in the Bronx has windows blanketed with a black film. The principal blames air pollution from an expressway across the street.

"We have children with asthma," said Principal Roxanne Ledda. "We have obesity, due to children not being able to go outside when the air is thick."

Some might not believe clean air contributes to a quality education. But at this elementary school, Ledda says what students breathe does have an impact on their success.

We take a closer look at this community that's about 80 percent Black and Hispanic to see how traffic is affecting them and what's being done to create healthier communities.

North Carolina

One community in eastern North Carolina has some of the worst air quality in the state, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Data also shows people living in the city of Sanford are mostly from communities of color and considered low income.

Additionally, the CDC says 1 in 10 adults who live there have asthma.

Hear from residents who love where they live, but are concerned about their health.