‘Trying to breathe’—as CA toasts environmental win, pollution still plagues

Growing up with 12 people packed into a two-bedroom apartment in Wilmington, Magali Sanchez-Hall rarely left the bubble of her south Los Angeles neighborhood.

She assumed everyone lived with chronic coughs, unexplained skin rashes and asthma. Her extended family and friends were all hit with cancers.

“It’s just the way it was,” she said.

Not until Sanchez-Hall left Wilmington—an industrial powerhouse where multiple freeways, the Port of L.A., rail spurs, and four oil refineries crowd into in less than 10 square miles—did she began to connect the dots.

The awakening came in her first semester at UCLA, where she was pursuing a master’s degree. A guest lecturer for her environmental law class began a presentation by describing “the most polluted place in America” where taking in a lungful of air was considered a debatable health choice. He called it ‘ground zero’ for industrial pollution.

“He began to show slides of this ‘terrible’ place,” Sanchez-Hall said. “I was curious where it would be. But when I saw the pictures, I couldn’t believe it, there was my brother’s house, there was my uncle’s house, there was my church.”

Read the entire article at Calmatters.org