New Report Reveals N.Y.C. Areas Most Hurt by Environmental Inequities

The Latest

A new report from the Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice digs deep into the social inequities that contribute to environmental problems in New York City neighborhoods.

Some areas of the city, like sections of the Bronx that intersect with the congested traffic of the Cross Bronx Expressway, have a number of environmental risk factors.Credit…Jade Doskow for The New York Times

The Background: A project years in the making.

In 2017, a new law required the city to publish a data-driven study and mapping tool that identifies areas with disproportionate levels of pollution, as well as contributing socioeconomic factors.

Seven years later, it’s here.

Mayor Eric Adams said that the report and mapping tool would help locate “the communities that have been most impacted by environmental inequities.” And those insights, he added, will help guide government policies.

The Findings: Low-income communities of color are the hardest hit.

Nearly half of the city’s population lives in what the report describes as an “environmental justice area.” (It determined these areas, which typically have histories of societal neglect resulting in elevated levels of pollution and health issues, using census data.)

Polluting infrastructure, like high-emitting power plants and hazardous waste generators, tends to anchor these neighborhoods, many of which also lack green space and public transit. Several of the areas are near highways and warehouses, which can expose residents to contaminants.

Structural racism and poverty contribute to hardships for residents, who also battle a disproportionate amount of challenges related to housing and climate change, such as lead paint exposure and high heat.

Within these areas, 27 percent of residents are Black and 43 percent are Hispanic; almost a quarter have incomes below the poverty level.

The Bronx has the most environmental justice areas — nearly the entire borough qualifies for the designation. Affected neighborhoods in other boroughs include East Harlem, central and eastern Brooklyn, the North Shore of Staten Island and southern Queens.

Why It Matters: The data underscores needs.

Back to top button