Environmental Consequences of the Motor City

As a growing society, we are continually expanding technological limits to enhance the productivity and relative ease of our daily lives. As these innovations propagate themselves, a heavy priced is paid to the surrounding suburbs and communities to which these factories are located.  Dating to the 1950's, Detroit boomed as the epicenter of the automobile industry with over 1.8 million people citizens at the time. With such prowess in massive production came scarring of the land deteriorated the environmental well-being of the surrounding area. This conundrum did not concern factory owners until the late 1970’s when environmental activists protested to stop dumping hazardous material near residential and public areas.  The voices of the affected and those with concern may have came too late with over forty years of contamination and pollution shut down recreational parks and potential housing areas. 

In the article, Arising from the Ashes? Environmental Health in Detroit by Tim Lougheed, it explains how and why the environmental health has changed the surrounding residents’ health over the years near these automotive factories. Tim shows the historical facts of Detroit and how it came to be what is known as, “Industrial Alley” along the River Rouge.  With staggeringly high statistics of asthma hospitalizations that negatively affected the low-income families in the area and force them to move away from these factories. To view the full article, you can do so by clicking, here

The article also focuses in on the Packard Plant and Detroit’s financial crisis in relation to other blight and hazardous contaminations. According to the EPA, more than 40,000 contaminated parcels of land have been fixed to Detroit due to failure to pay taxes.  With that being said, that would mean that cleaning up the debris from the decaying buildings would not be enough to “fix” the problems because the soil itself is contaminated with more than 10 times the standard amount of lead in the soil.  After the EPA's discovery of high amounts of lead, they began a “$940,000 cleanup operation, removing 3,000 tons of soil from nearby residences,” but even before the excavation and discovery of these harmful chemicals caused countless repertory issues and cancers to the workers as well as residents in the area.  

After reading this article, it is more than just cleaning up materials left behind by the factories but rather spreading the awareness to those in the area to speak out to such neglect.  As well as letting our voices be heard because that is what MedEq is all about standing up for those who are in need of a better standard of living.


1. Lougheed, Tim. "Arising from the Ashes? Environmental Health in Detroit." Environmental Health Prospectives, Dec. 2014. Web.