Las Vegas Sun

November 28, 2015

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Air pollution and the risk to Hispanic people

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Air pollution is a real danger that we live with every day. This is especially true for Hispanics.

About 90 percent of Hispanics in the United States live in urban areas. These are areas where pollution from cars and trucks and major transportation arteries contaminate our air with smog, soot, carbon, mercury, lead and other toxic substances. It is estimated that 80 percent of Hispanics live in areas that fail to meet all U.S. EPA air quality standards, compared with 65 percent of blacks and 57 percent of Caucasians.

Many are surprised to learn that Hispanic children are much more likely to have asthma or other serious lung diseases than non-Hispanic white children. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2010, about 3.6 million Hispanics reported that they currently have asthma. Additionally, Hispanic children are 40 percent more likely to die from asthma, as compared with non-Hispanic whites.

Regardless of skin color, any parent who has seen a son or daughter in the throes of an uncontrolled asthma attack knows how scary they are and just how powerless you feel when it’s happening.

There is no doubt pollution from fossil fuels is dangerous for all of our families, our children and our communities. This is an especially big concern for Hispanic families because as a demographic, we are less likely to have health insurance to treat chronic problems than other ethnic groups. Hispanics in this country are aware of these threats to the health of our families and our communities, and as we look to ways to lessen the impact of pollution on our community, we will find solutions that benefit everyone’s health in our community.

One part of the solution is to work with companies and industries that can help reduce all forms of pollution. To that end, we have one of the most accomplished utilities in the nation when it comes to developing renewable energy. We need to continue to encourage NV Energy to invest in more renewable energy and energy efficiency so that Nevada will continue to be a leader nationally in the development of clean energy.

We also need to support our elected leaders, such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who is putting the health and safety of our families front and center by advocating for the development of clean energy and for his support of constructing the super speed train from California. His leadership in these areas should help all of us to breathe a little easier.

Here is my commitment: Next year in Carson City, I will work with my colleagues to ensure that Nevada’s abundant, clean, renewable energy resources are developed in a responsible manner, and importantly, stabilize our energy rates while ensuring the vitality of our community by protecting public health. With your help, we can create clean energy jobs to help struggling Nevadans take care of their families. That will help all of us.

Mo Denis is a state senator who represents Las Vegas.

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