Proposed Biomass Plant in Leon County, Fla., Might Exacerbate Area’s High Black Infant Mortality Rate, Opinion Piece Says
A "biomass plant should not be built" in Leon County, Fla., Edward Holifield, a retired Tallahassee physician writes in a Tallahassee Democrat opinion piece. The Florida Department of Health has "documented conclusively that black infants in Leon County are dying at Third World levels" and "the environmental poisons in Leon County are concentrated on the south side of town, which houses the greatest concentration of the blacks and the poor," Holifield writes.
He notes that a 2003 Quarterly Journal of Economics linked "air pollution to the death of black babies" and that "Leon County ranked the worst in the state in 2008 for annual particle pollution of the air." In addition, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers found that "'a 1% reduction in total suspended particulates (TSPs) results in a 0.35% decline in the infant mortality rate at the county level,'" Holifield writes, adding, "Most of the decline in infant mortality occurred within the first month of birth, suggesting that fetal exposure was the mechanism responsible for the deaths." He continues, "The analysis also noted 'nonlinear effects of TSPs pollution and greater sensitivity of black infant mortality at the county level.'"
Holifield writes, "The bottom line is that air pollution may have an even greater adverse effect on black infants compared with whites. Black people have already suffered enough" (Holifield, Tallahassee Democrat, 11/20).