Superfunds and Inequality

Superfund sites are located in low-income communities

Superfunds without enough funds

Superfunds have terrible impacts on health

  • Cognitive development — Children born within 1 mile of a superfund site are 10 percentage points more likely to be diagnosed with a cognitive disability. When families move away from superfund sites, the siblings in these families do not experience these challenges.
  • Life expectancy — Worst yet, living next to a superfund site decreases life expectancy by 15 months on average.
  • Pregnancy — Women living less than a quarter of a mile away from a Superfund site during the first three months of their pregnancies have been found to be 2–4-times more likely to give birth to a child with a heart or neural tube defect.
  • Lead — Residents of the West Calumet Public Housing Complex in East Chicago felt the pains of living next to a superfund site. After many residents had lived in the housing complex for decades, the EPA told them they had to relocate after lead and arsenic were found in the soil, which had been seeping from the Anaconda Lead Products facility. The EPA took soil samples in 2014 and 2015 and found that lead and arsenic levels were as high as 91,100 ppm (parts per million), or 200-times higher than the level required for immediate action. 90% of the residents in Calumet are either Black or Latinx.
Akeeshea Daniels talks about lead levels in her home during a public listening session hosted by the EPA in 2019 — Source: Chicago Tribune

NJ, CA, and PA have the most Superfund sites in America.

The gunk in the Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn is often referred to as “black mayonnaise.” Source — Curbed

The Path Forward

While living near a superfund site, Melissa Nootz found out her daughter Esme (left) was born with lead in her blood — Source: Montana Standard




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Jeremy Ney

Jeremy Ney

Google, MIT, Harvard, UPenn, Federal Reserve, now writing about inequality at

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