They Were Cleaning Up One Of America’s Most Polluted Neighborhoods. Then Came COVID-19.
A recent article in HuffPost highlights West Oakland's struggle for cleaner air through a community-driven effort to reduce air pollution, and the challenges that Covid-19 creates for its residents -- both through reduced state funding for its efforts, as well as the direct public health risks that it presents to people who are already vulnerable due to air pollution exposure. As part of its Carbon-Free Future work, BARC has been working to coordinate better regional agency support for implementation of the Community Air Protection Program in West Oakland.
Surrounded by the Port of Oakland, two freeways, and home to several industrial polluters, West Oakland has long struggled with poor air quality. According to the article, life expectancy in West Oakland is 24 years shorter than in the affluent Oakland Hills neighborhoods just five miles away. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to poor air quality can significantly increase a person's chance of death from Covid-19.
“We are going to have a vaccination for COVID-19. There’s no vaccination for air pollution,” said Ms. Margaret Gordon, the co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP).