A new study investigates whether Nova Scotia is dumping cancer rates on the nearby black community


Landfills, landfills and environmentally hazardous pulp and paper mills are more likely to be present in the African communities of Nova Scotia and Mi’kmaw. These communities suffer from high rates of cancer and respiratory disease. Credit: Shutterstock

In the 1940s, the city of Shelburne, New Zealand, became home to a new landfill. Residential, industrial and medical waste throughout Shelburne County was burned in the landfill over the decades, leaving nearby residents worried about health issues.

The landfill was located uphill in the African community of Nova Scotia South End, whose roots date back to the 20th century. settlement of loyal blacks who were evacuated from the United States after the 1776 revolutionary war. Those near the dump worked, played, and lived amid the constant smells and smoke of the burned garbage. The landfill operated for 75 years and closed in 2016.

The placement of this landfill was an act of what we now call environmental racism: the disproportionate location of polluting industries and other environmentally hazardous projects in indigenous, black, and other marginalized communities.

Questions about high rates of cancer and deaths among members of Shelburne’s new Scottish African community, compared to its white neighbors across the city or even within the South End, have had long over low heat. Together with our colleagues, we embark on a major research project to determine if the landfill’s legacy may be even more sinister than people knew at the time.

Community-based research on environmental racism

Much of the motivation for the study comes from the work of local activist Louise Delisle, who has gone door-to-door in her community to catalog cancer cases, both recent and historical.

Environmental racism: new study investigates whether Nova Scotia pours cancer rates on nearby black community

Locations of Nova Scotia African communities, First Nations communities and toxic facilities in Nova Scotia. Credit: ENRICH Project

Previous and ongoing research and advocacy conducted through the Environmental Harm, Racial Inequalities and Community Health Project (the ENRICH Project), data from the book There is something in the water: environmental racism in indigenous and black communities and experiences of environmental racism shared by members of the new Scottish community a Documentary of the same name from Netflix, confirm the need for this research.

Data collected by the ENRICH Project over the years indicate that environmentally hazardous projects such as landfills, landfills and pulp and paper pulp mills are more likely to be located in the African communities of Nova Scotia and Mi’kmaw, and that these communities suffer from high rates of cancer and respiratory disease.

The drive to address environmental racism is also growing. A private federal member’s bill introduced by Nova Scotia MP Lenore Zann on National strategy to repair environmental racism, approved the second reading on March 24, 2021.

On June 21, Bill C-230 returned to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development for Amendments, where it was passed a few days later. It will go to third reading in the fall of 2021 and then to the Senate, after which it may become Canada’s first legislation to address environmental racism.

Many factors influence cancer

Because many factors can influence the incidence of cancer in a population, we will oversee a team spanning several research disciplines, with McMaster University as the center and a significant representation from Dalhousie University, coordinated by cancer biologist Paola Marignani.

Official trailer for ‘There Something in the Water’.

Environmental chemical exposures, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), can interact with biological products and , as well as social determinants of health, as access to health care, race, gender, and incomeand lifestyle factors, such as diet, physical activity, and smoking.

Our team will examine the contents of the landfill to identify harmful materials such as heavy metals, volatile organic compounds and fine particles, and we will examine genetic and epigenetic changes in the genomes of Shelburne residents that may explain cancer susceptibility.

We will also examine to what extent career, gender, income and another the social determinants of health contribute to cancer and premature death. The role of diet, exercise, smoking and others lifestyle factors in the incidence of cancer in Shelburne will also be studied with this in mind existing studies indicate that these factors may increase our likelihood of cancer.

Cancer in black communities

The study is multidisciplinary and complex. However, we are confident that it will help clarify the complex interactions between social determinants of health, lifestyle factors, genetics, and health. generational impact of chronic toxin exposure. It will also shed light on what is going up prices in South End Shelburne.

Our study will not only be of value to the small Shelburne community, but will provide a template for further studies on the relationship between environmental racism and chronic disease. For example, the new Scottish African community in Lincolnville, NS, Indigenous communities as Wet’suwet’en first nation in northern BC, i Aamjiwnaang First Nation near Sarnia, Ont., as well as African Americans living nearby Cancer Alley in Louisiana, who live near landfills, pipelines and petrochemical facilities, could benefit from a similar multidisciplinary approach.

This study, and others like it, will take us one step closer to tackling the broader problem of the system in Canada.

Canada must dismantle anti-black racism in medicine

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Citation: Environmental Racism: A New Study Investigates Whether Nova Scotia Spills Cancer Rates on Nearby Black Community (2021, July 9) Retrieved July 9, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07- environmental-racism-nova-scotia -dump.html

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