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Discussion Questions - Environment



According to Craig E. Colten, "Many of the industries that moved into the Illinois floodplain did so because their activities would be allowed there, free from nuisance statutes in St. Louis, and because a flood protection system was under construction in 1909. These manufacturers produced noxious odors, smoke, and biological or hazardous wastes and their concentration east of the Mississippi River reflected the growing momentum to isolate offensive industries." Industries moved to East St. Louis and its surrounding area because the laws regarding wastes were less stringent and almost inexistent. The lack of laws or enforcement led to many of today's environmental problems in East St. Louis. Why have these environmental problems gone on forgotten for so long? What measures need to be taken to clear up the waste found in and around East St. Louis? Please use specific ideas and examples to support your answer. (Voegele, Michelle)

How big of a factor is the environmental condition of East St. Louis today? Look at the history of polluting industries and explain the toll they have taken on the city's people and structures. How has this affected other things such as education for example? (Grabowski, Matthew)

With the government designed around industry, regulations were often relaxed in the city to promote the growth of industry and profit. Craig Colten writes in "Environmental Development in the East St. Louis Region, 1890-1970" that, "public health officials remained tolerant of most toxic and acidic wastes prior to 1930." This tolerance led to massive amounts of unregulated disposal of wastes that have caused areas of East St. Louis to develop dangerous amounts of toxic materials such as lead in the soil that are harmful to children's health. Many of the factories also produce hazardous material that can become airborne and pollute the quality of air all around St. Clair County. Even though many residents have complained about the noise, pollution, and odor coming from the factories and industry near their homes, the East St. Louis government remained hesitant to place restrictions upon the industries causing the problems. Over the years, most of the industry has relocated but the industry just outside of East St. Louis and the waste left behind continue to cause problems for the residents in the low lying city of East St. Louis. What do you think should be done about the continuing pollution of East St. and the Mississippi River? If the environment were to improve, what would that mean for the future of the city? (Baltzell, Cassandra)

In Savage Inequalities, Kozol discusses the environmental problems in East St. Louis, including sewage backups and toxic chemicals in the soil and air. What steps should be taken to reduce the prevalence of dangerous environmental damage? How high is environmental cleanup on the agenda for ESL? (Kilhoffer, Zak)

The problem of the heavily polluted environment in East St Louis is a very real and constantly present danger. Due to past industry in the area and lax health regulations, the soil contains a high percentage of lead and other damaging chemicals. The pipes are known to occasional rupture and flood the schools and houses with raw sewage. If you were in charge of cleaning up the environment of East St Louis, what sort of health hazard to rid the city of would be first on your agenda? (Moore, Kristen)

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