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Into Dirty Air

High rates of pollution compound risks of COVID-19 for Black Americans.
Image: Baton Rouge
Smoke billows from one of many chemical plants in Baton Rouge, La., on Oct.12, 2013.Giles Clarke / Getty Images

Black Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a disproportionally high rate. One of the reasons why is proximity to pollution.

In St. James Parish, Louisiana residents have been fighting for decades to stop industry-related pollution that causes a high prevalence of cancer, hypertension and other diseases. Those health disparities are now making residents a target for COVID-19. St. James and neighboring St. John the Baptist Parishes are among the 20 U.S. counties with the highest per-capita death rate from Coronavirus.

Host Trymaine Lee interviews Sharon Lavigne, a community leader and lifelong resident of St. James, who is fighting for clean air. And Dr. Robert Bullard, Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environmental Policy at Texas Southern University, explains the link between race, health and the environment.

The Into America team wants to hear from you about what’s happening in your community. Send feedback, questions, and story ideas to

Find host Trymaine Lee on Twitter @trymainelee.

Further Reading:

Find the transcript here.

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