By Dr. Larry Chiaramonte
I don’t normally read the Huffington Post, but when a friend set me an article called “Black With Asthma” by Dominique Browning, I saw red. It quotes recent testimony of Harry C. Alford, the President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, on the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Alford declared in support of standards that would allow for more pollution:
“Poverty brings far worse health than mercury coming out of a coal plant or utility plant. Violence, crime. These kids that I see are far more likely to get a bullet in the head than asthma. And that’s the reality of it and that’s because of the economic consequences of bad policy and practices — much of which comes from Capitol Hill.”
As a pediatric allergist and asthma specialist in the country’s highest asthma zip code (and whose political views run counter to many stereotypes) I caution anyone against putting asthma third in this pecking order behind poverty and crime. (And by the way, what does Mr. Alford propose to do about those?) Someone should tell him that the best chance of producing jobs for black, brown, yellow and white Americans is in the development of technology and companies that green the environment. The demand for this will be worldwide and we can balance our imports by becoming an export leader in this technology.
I guess bosses of established black businesses are not unlike those of established white ones. Both are unwilling to change their habits of pollution of the environment for profit and risk entering the new areas of greening the environment.
Poverty brings violence, crime and a high rate of asthma. And when you consider the effects of chronic asthma on school performance and overall quality of life, you can also say that a high rate of asthma brings a high rate of poverty. With the development of green industries we can change a win/lose game to a win/win game.
Photo from thenthmil.com