"In the Shadows of America's Smokestacks, Virus Is One More Deadly Risk"

"This isn’t the first time Vicki Dobbins’s town has been forced to shelter in place.

Last year, the Marathon Petroleum refinery that looms over her neighborhood near Detroit emitted a pungent gas, causing nausea and dizziness among neighbors and prompting health officials to warn people to stay inside. When a stay-at-home advisory returned in March, this time for the coronavirus, “it was just devastating,” Ms. Dobbins said.

Ms. Dobbins, who is 76, later contracted Covid-19, and spent two weeks on oxygen in intensive care. Now she has a question. “Do the polluters in our area make us more susceptible to asthma, bronchitis, heart failure, cancers?” she asked. “Is the virus just going to be one of the ones added to that list?”

Nationwide, low-income communities of color like hers, River Rouge, Mich., are exposed to significantly higher levels of pollution, studies have found, and also see higher levels of lung disease and other ailments. Now, scientists are racing to understand if long-term exposure to air pollution plays a role in the coronavirus crisis, particularly since minorities are disproportionately dying."

Hiroko Tabuchi reports for the New York Times May 17, 2020.

Source: NYTimes, 05/18/2020