Air Quality: What if the Air in your Town was Unsafe to Breathe?

People who live in Detroit and nearby neighborhoods have been affected for years by heavy industrial operations in their communities polluting the air. The Michigan Department of Community Health has called this area the “Epicenter of Asthma Burden,” due to the health consequences that stem from the polluted air in the region. Further, the American Lung Association found in 2014 that Wayne County had the highest asthma rates in the entire state of Michigan. In Detroit's zip codes, 18% of students have diagnosed asthma (with an additional 7-10% estimated undiagnosed cases).

Some call this an issue of environmental injustice, as these cases of horrible air pollution tend to occur in low-income areas across the country where there is a lot of industrial pollution. How can we increase equality when it comes to environmental conditions? Not only does the quality of air affect children's health, but also their performance in school. If air quality in low-income areas results in less academic success for students, how does this affect a child's likelihood of getting out of their low-income situation? What kinds of programs can we put in place to either improve air quality in these areas or get families out of these conditions?