Mississippi River, Louisiana, cancer, Louisiana, cancer alley, toxic, disease

Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’ Sees Disease Rate 7x National Average

The community suffocating under the weight of toxic emissions sees rates of disease and birth defects up to seven times the national average.

Black residents along an 85-mile stretch of road between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, known as “Cancer Alley,” face a grim reality as rates of disease and birth defects there climb up to seven times the national average.

The area’s total of 1.5 million residents — who are predominantly Black — are surrounded by more than 200 fossil fuel and petrochemical operations, increasing the risk of chronic health conditions and a high rate of underweight and premature births three times the norm, Daily Mail reported.

The stretch of land by the banks of the Mississippi River is the focus of a report by Human Rights Watch that accused state and federal regulators of systemic neglect and turning a blind eye to the dangers posed by industrial facilities.

Senior fossil fuels researcher at Human Rights Watch, Antonia Juhasz, said, “The fossil fuel and petrochemical industry has created a ‘sacrifice zone’ in Louisiana. The failure of state and federal authorities to properly regulate the industry has dire consequences,” Daily Mail reported.

The report calls for the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to deny permits in the overburdened area and for the United States Environmental Protection Agency to order facilities to cease operations until they adhere to Clean Air Act standards.

At least 19 more facilities are planned for “Cancer Alley,” Daily Mail noted, and residents bear the biggest burden.

Sharon Lavigne, a 71-year-old resident of Welcome, said to Human Rights Watch, “We’re dying from inhaling the industries’ pollution. I feel like it’s a death sentence. Like we are getting cremated, but not getting burnt.”

Kaitlyn Joshua, who has had chronic asthma since childhood, was told by a doctor: “Kaitlyn, it’s where you live. It’s the air quality. You’re going to have to move out of there,” the news source reported.

Angie Roberts, 57, and a breast cancer survivor from St. James Parish, faces the added burden of autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis, potentially linked to the toxic emissions. “Who would want to live here now? I’m dying here,” Roberts said.

Stillbirths, infertility, and chronic sinus infections have also been reported, according to other accounts from residents.

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