Disenfranchised communities are often sites for the disproportionate exposure to environmental pollutants. Environmental injustice, often in the form of environmental racism, is the process whereby environmental decisions, policies, and actions result in discrimination and the construction of racial advantages (Eligon 2016). Environmentally detrimental infrastructure affects non-white and poor communities at higher rates than their white and affluent counterparts.
Developing child brains are especially susceptible pollutant-induced harm. Exposure to these pollutants often affect children’s ability to learn and concentrate in the classroom. Environmental injustice in the wider community cannot be separated from the educational consequences emerging in classrooms. Health and welfare are key components in the ability for children to succeed in the classroom.
As of 2014, Flint, Michigan has faced a public health emergency when the city’s residents were exposed to high levels of lead through their drinking water. State oversight and desire to cut funds led the citizens of Flint to ingest pollutants after officials rushed to change the source of drinking water. Young, developing brains are especially susceptible to lead-induced harm. The people of Flint created a grassroots movement to acquire safe drinking water, raise public awareness of the problem, and propose remedies for the enduring harmful effects of the lead-exposure. Community members have worked to establish the best possible learning environment for students experiencing the aftermath of the neurotoxin entering their bloodstream.