The environment and Latinos

President Obama’s decision this month to order the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not to move forward with plans to tighten ozone protection standards was seen as a political move to appease Republican critics and corporations, who always argue that government efforts to improve the environment are “job killing” measures.

A new report published Thursday by several environmental organizations and the Center for American Progress (CAP) revealed that the country’s Latino population is among the most vulnerable due to the high concentrations of air pollution found in the regions, cities and neighborhoods where they live.

However, “job killing” regulations-a questionable argument-also save lives. In the case of populations living in certain neighborhoods close to freeways, landfills, factories and more, we know there is higher vulnerability to the effects pollutants have on people’s health.

The report, entitled “U.S. Latinos and Air Pollution: A Call to Action,” points out that Latinos are concentrated in states that frequently violate ozone protection standards. Even if it were otherwise, reducing the pollution of the air we all breathe, a vital element of the climate change that is happening, is a global imperative. Apparently, some people still think this is optional despite the fact that science shows the opposite. However, in order to realize how relevant the issue is for the Latino population in the U.S., the proof is in the pudding: in 2008, 4.7 million Latinos were diagnosed with asthma. As statistics remind us, this population is three times more likely to die from asthma than the general population. Cleaning up the environment is also an issue for Latinos.