The Environmental Justice Lab

The Environmental Justice Lab

Since the dawn of human history, the fight for environmental justice has always been a fight. Water wars between the people of Israel and herdsmen of Gerar in the book of Genesis, Chapter 26. The resistance of Native Americans to the pillaging of their land and resources at the founding of the United States of America. The refusal to allow a hazardous landfill to be built in the Warren County, a predominantly Black community in North Carolina, giving birth to the modern-day environmental justice movement. The struggle for clean water in places like Flint, MI and Newark, NJ and Jackson, MS. The struggle is real and the fight is on-going. And I'm here for it. My name is Dr. Lesley Joseph, a professor, an environmental engineer, and a fighter for environmental justice in our present day. Every other Tuesday, on this podcast, I explore issues related to environmental justice and the ways in which communities of color are impacted. Each episode will discuss a important environmental justice issue or situation and what we can do to fight for change. Let's learn, grow, and fight for a better world together!


March 14, 2023 25 min
This episode is about Cancer Alley. A place where the risk of getting cancer is 50 times higher than the national average. A place that the United Nations refers to as “the textbook definition of environmental racism”. A place that has more polluting facilities per square mile than anywhere else in the United States. The ultimate sacrifice zone. We need to talk about Cancer Alley.

Learn More about Cancer Alley*:
History of Cancer Al...
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As we continue our series on “Sacrifice Zones”, we turn our attention to Cancer Alley, a particularly insidious area in Louisiana that is riddled with petrochemical plants and various chemical facilities. In a major step, the EPA has filed a lawsuit against Denka and DuPont, companies with long-standing histories of polluting in Cancer Alley. On this episode, we begin our discussion of Cancer Alley by talking about this lawsuit by ...
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**This episode is dedicated to Mary Gladell Rice Martin (1932 - 2023). She was an amazing woman, a pillar in her community, and a lifelong BASF employee in South Carolina. Her life was the motivation for this episode.**

BASF is the world’s largest chemical company. BASF is also one of the world’s greatest purveyors of environmental racism and injustice. Part 4 of our series on “Sacrifice Zones” dives into ProPublica’s investigation ...
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Part 3 of our series on sacrifice zones takes a look at ProPublica’s investigative reporting on sacrifice zones. ProPublica’s analysis of five years of modeled EPA data identified more than 1,000 toxic hot spots across the country and found that an estimated 250,000 people living in them may be exposed to levels of excess cancer risk that the EPA deems unacceptable.
This work has provided tremendous, data-driven analysis that gives ...
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Part 2 of our series on sacrifice zones takes a look at the world stage. There are areas all around the globe where resource extraction, dirty energy production, and horrid waste management practices have led to sacrifice zones all around the world.

Zones where the children are poisoned with lead and other heavy metals.

Zones where the life expectancy for adults is 20-25 years lower than average.

Zones where the toxic environment i...
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Today marks the beginning of a series of episodes about sacrifice zones. Have you heard of them? They are areas all throughout the world that are in close proximity to intense pollution produced by intensive and concentrated industry. These areas are most often inhabited by communities of color, low-income families, and indigenous populations. Not surprising. We need to talk about this. Join us for this new series!

Learn More about...
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The City of Baltimore is in the midst of a water crisis, decades in the making. From E. Coli contamination leading to a week-long boil water advisory last September to on-going disruptions and frustration from the residents, we need to take a look at this issue and consider the burdens that come when communities of color are forced to live with this type of water insecurity. Let’s talk about it!

Learn More about Baltimore’s Water Is...
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Gas stoves have always been touted as the superior way to cook, whether you are grilling outside or making dinner in the home. However, they have come under a lot of scrutiny for their connection to childhood asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Many commentators even suggested that the use of gas stoves presents an environmental justice issue!

Earlier this month, the chair of the US Consumer Product Safety Commission suggested ...
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In August 2022, major flooding disrupted the operation of the O.B Curtis Water Treatment Plant, which caused residents in Jackson, MS to go without water for over a week. While this disruption garnered national attention, it put a spotlight on the water issues that Jackson, MS has endured for decades. So how did we get here? And what is being done to address these systemic water system issues? We talk about it on this episode of th...
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January 1, 2023 17 min
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2023 and to the (new and improved) Environmental Justice Lab Podcast. It is exciting to think about all that we can do together this upcoming year. On this episode, I want to reintroduce you to the podcast. Many of you have been listening since I started the podcast this past summer. Many of you are listening for the first time. In any case, I am so glad that you’re here. I want to tell you a bit about my...
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November 18, 2022 23 min
The US Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments regarding The Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. The fate of this law has significant implications for environmental justice and protection for Native American tribes and their communities. We need to talk about it.

Learn more about ICWA:

National Indian Children Welfare Association:

Native American Rights Fund:
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It’s Native American Heritage Month, everyone. Let’s take some time to celebrate our fellow Americans this month and to learn more about the environmental justice issues that plague Indigenous communities.

Find a Native Tribe near you:

Start following these accounts:

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Last week was National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Too often, lead exposure has compromised the health and wellbeing of communities of color. We need to talk about it.
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This is our first installment of “Notes from Benedict College” (NFBC), where I share experiences as a Professor of the Practice at Benedict College.

Bottom line: We need all of our engineering students (not just the environmental ones) engaged and excited about confronting issues related to environmental justice.
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Time to celebrate Happy Indigenous Peoples’ Day. We love all of our Native American friends and neighbors, and we continue to seek justice on your behalf.
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The water crisis in Jackson, MS continues. And we are still talking about it.

Class Action Lawsuit:

NAACP Title VI Complaint:
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The EPA made a big announcement today - The establishment of the Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights. Let's talk about it.

Link to announcement:
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Let's talk about environmental racism and mental health. The issues do not end when the water is restored or the air is cleaned up. It remains a real problem.

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There is a water crisis in Jackson, Mississippi right now. While there are a lot of thoughts about why this water crisis has occurred, I can clearly see why this is happening.
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