"‘Potentially Dangerous Conditions May Exist In This Area’"

"Pollution has plagued this Birmingham, Alabama, neighborhood for decades. Will anything ever change?"

"Keisha Brown was 12 the first time she stopped breathing.

She’d fallen asleep on a chilly November night in Birmingham, Alabama, to the sound of carloads of coal passing on a rail line through the neighborhood’s otherwise quiet backyards.

Brown awoke with a gasp. Her mother rushed in to find her usually calm child panic-stricken, unable to breathe. They sped to Carraway Hospital, where Brown was diagnosed with severe asthma. She’s lived with this condition for nearly three decades now — life-threatening mucus coating her inflamed airways.

Now 40, Brown lives in the same house. It’s modest, white with turquoise trim, a wheelchair ramp leading to a screened-in porch with a clear view of the rail line and the 400-acre industrial site that’s likely plagued her lungs all these years. Brown’s house is surrounded by steel mills, cement plants and two major producers of coke, a high-carbon fuel made by baking coal, that have operated for nearly a century. Across the street, two-story mounds that look like moss-covered hills but are really berms of another byproduct of the coking process block the view of factories beyond. "

Katherine Webb-Hehn reports for HuffPost August 3, 2019.

Source: HuffPost, 08/05/2019