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The Impact of Race on Environmental Quality: An Empirical and Theoretical Discussion

Raquel Pinderhughes
Sociological Perspectives
Vol. 39, No. 2, Environmental Conflict (Summer, 1996), pp. 231-248
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
DOI: 10.2307/1389310
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1389310
Page Count: 18
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The Impact of Race on Environmental Quality: An Empirical and Theoretical Discussion
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Abstract

The toxic pollution problem is composed of several interrelated parts which are involved in the process of production, use, and disposal of chemicals and products considered necessary for society. Each day, millions of pounds of toxic chemicals are used, stored, disposed of, and transported in and out of communities throughout the United States. Most Americans assume that pollution and other environmental hazards are problems faced equally by everyone in our society. But a growing body of research shows that the most common victims of environmental hazards and pollution are minorities and the poor. Disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards is part of the complex cycle of discrimination and deprivation faced by minorities in the United States. This article examines social science empirical research on the relationship between race, class, and the distribution of environmental hazards and the theoretical perspectives which have emerged to explain environmental inequities. The article also discusses the link between the environmental justice movement, which seeks to confront the causes and consequences of environmental inequities, and social science research on environmental inequity.

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