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Drivers and Outcomes of Pollution Disparities in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley

Drivers and Outcomes of Pollution Disparities in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley

Moderator: Lauren Dagley, RN, PSR Pennsylvania’s Medical and Environmental Health Writer
Dr. Kimberly Terrell, PhD, Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, Director of Community Engagement and Research Scientist Gianna St. Julien, Tulane Environmental Law Clinic, Researcher & Community Engagement Specialist Urszula Tanouye, Stop Sterigenics

June 15, 2023

Lessons Learned for Environmental Justice Communities


Communities of Color in Louisiana have long maintained that they are overburdened with industrial pollution, particularly in the region known as Cancer Alley. Efforts to reduce this pollution burden have been hindered by a lack of engagement from the scientific community, as well as a general lack of science literacy among decision-makers. In this presentation, we share results from our recent peer-reviewed research to help inform industrial permitting in Louisiana, with broader relevance to other communities burdened with industrial pollution. In the first study, we evaluated whether toxic air pollution was associated with higher cancer incidence among Louisiana census tracts, after accounting for race, poverty, occupation, smoking, and obesity. In the second study, we assessed whether industrial emissions disproportionately affect communities of Color in Louisiana, and whether potential disparities might be driven by industrial infrastructure, as state regulators have suggested. We will discuss the implications of our findings for communities and decision-makers, as well as opportunities for scientists to contribute to environmental justice more broadly.

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