Dolores Perales was 10 years old the first time she couldn’t take a breath and thought she was going to die.

Parts of the memory remain vague: she knows it was early April, the start of softball season, and she was playing outside. What she remembers clearly is the tightness in her chest and the rising panic. After it happened repeatedly, her mother took her to a doctor, who diagnosed her with asthma. “Ever since then I just had my inhaler,” she says. “One of my younger brothers had asthma; my cousin across the street had asthma. So many of the kids in my classroom had asthma,” Perales says. “As a kid, you kind of start thinking this is something normal.”

Equally normal, as far as Perales was concerned, was a Detroit skyline hazed by the fume-spewing Marathon petroleum refinery. And the Ambassador Bridge—the busiest vehicle crossing between the U.S. and Canada, often packed with idling, diesel-fueled trucks—was typical, too. Both were within a few miles of her home.

It was not until Perales began traveling with her middle school softball, volleyball and basketball teams that she realized the chemical-laced air she knew so well was not the norm for everyone. Just a 30-minute drive from her own neighborhood, Perales encountered quiet, tree-lined streets. But even more striking to her than the greenery was the suburban air. “It smelled different,” she says. “When I was out there, it didn’t smell bad.”

Nearly a decade after that first asthma attack, Perales began attending college at Michigan State University, where the air was so pristine that she rarely needed her inhaler. A few years later, during graduate courses in environmental justice, Perales learned that the emissions in the air that made her so sick were a direct result of discrimination—the refinery and the bridge had been placed where they were because, years before, her community had been deemed less important than the well-to-do suburbs and had neither the means nor the political influence to fight back. Air pollution had become concentrated in her neighborhood as one of the side effects of a discriminatory housing practice known as redlining.

Even when a nation’s overall air quality is safe, pockets of polluted air may persist—often in areas where marginalized communities live and work. In the U.S., redlining and practices such as building freeways through poorer neighborhoods have exposed some people to much higher levels of pollution than those in adjacent neighborhoods.

“The major sources of emissions of harmful pollutants are often placed, in unfair ways, in communities that are disadvantaged as a result of discriminatory or racist practices or policies,” says environmental health researcher Rima Habre of the University of Southern California.

In countries around the world the burden of poor air quality—and its accompanying health threats—typically falls on lower-income communities, including immigrants, migrant workers and people from other marginalized groups. Any improvements in air quality tend to start in richer neighborhoods. On a global scale, people in high-income countries breathe

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

  1. SDGs Addressed or Connected to the Issues

    • SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
    • SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
    • SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
    • SDG 13: Climate Action
  2. Specific Targets Based on the Article’s Content

    • Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination.
    • Target 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, or economic or other status.
    • Target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management.
    • Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries.
  3. Indicators Mentioned or Implied in the Article

    • Indicator 3.9.1: Mortality rate attributed to household and ambient air pollution.
    • Indicator 10.2.1: Proportion of people living below 50 percent of median income, by age, sex, and disability.
    • Indicator 11.6.2: Annual mean levels of fine particulate matter (e.g., PM2.5 and PM10) in cities (population weighted).
    • Indicator 13.1.1: Number of deaths, missing persons, and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators Table

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination. Indicator 3.9.1: Mortality rate attributed to household and ambient air pollution.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities Target 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, or economic or other status. Indicator 10.2.1: Proportion of people living below 50 percent of median income, by age, sex, and disability.
Target 11.6: By 2030, reduce the adverse per capita environmental impact of cities, including by paying special attention to air quality and municipal and other waste management. Indicator 11.6.2: Annual mean levels of fine particulate matter (e.g., PM2.5 and PM10) in cities (population weighted).
SDG 13: Climate Action Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries. Indicator 13.1.1: Number of deaths, missing persons, and directly affected persons attributed to disasters per 100,000 population.

Explanation:

1. The article addresses or is connected to SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being) because it discusses the health impacts of air pollution on respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, and other health issues. It also mentions the potential benefits of improving air quality in reducing health inequities.

2. Based on the article’s content, specific targets that can be identified are Target 3.9 (reducing deaths and illnesses from pollution), Target 10.2 (promoting social inclusion and reducing inequalities), Target 11.6 (improving air quality in cities), and Target 13.1 (strengthening resilience to climate-related hazards).

3. The article mentions or implies indicators that can be used to measure progress towards the identified targets. These indicators include mortality rate attributed to air pollution (Indicator 3.9.1), proportion of people living below 50 percent of median income (Indicator 10.2.1), annual mean levels of fine particulate matter in cities (Indicator 11.6.2), and number of deaths and affected persons attributed to disasters (Indicator 13.1.1).

Behold! This splendid article springs forth from the wellspring of knowledge, shaped by a wondrous proprietary AI technology that delved into a vast ocean of data, illuminating the path towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Remember that all rights are reserved by SDG Investors LLC, empowering us to champion progress together.

Source: scientificamerican.com

 

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