By Nicholas Perugini, Trending Writer
The ‘rust belt’ is a series of states in the Northern Mid-West that are currently suffering from urban decay. During the late 1980’s, manufacturing jobs began to leave the United States. Nations like China and Mexico provided cheaper labor and attracted manufacturing corporations to move their factories outside the U.S. Soon, many large factories located throughout America began to close down. With a large amount of cities suffering from unemployment and increasing poverty, the region became notorious for its crime and poor standard of living. Now, 30 years later, life still seems to be similar in these areas. However, there is hope.
After decades of neglect, these factories have become dilapidated. The poisonous chemicals stored away have begun to seep into the ground. Old pipes underground have started to deteriorate and the metal is getting into the water supply. Some structures have even partially collapsed. These abandoned factory zones are called brownfields, because of the pollution. This pollution not only affects the wild life, but it the people living in the city as well. Flint, Michigan is one prime example of a place that has been harmed by broken down factories.
In Flint, the water supply is being poisoned by the local river. The river is highly corrosive and when the city switched to the river for their water in 2014, the city’s pipes began to deteriorate. The lead from the metal pipes seeped into the water supply, effectively poisoning the citizens. The New York Times reported that in one woman’s home “Testing detects 397 parts per billion of lead in drinking water”. The reason the river is corrosive is because of all the chemicals that were dumped into it by the factories.
Since Flint is a low income city in the heart of the ‘rust belt’, there are very little funds to deal with this problem. There are efforts to clean up these factories and replace them with modern infrastructure or into parks, however. The EPA gives states grants to clean up the factories. There has been a nationwide effort to push for these clean ups. New Jersey is given over 2.5 million dollars to clean up brownfields. Michigan’s Department of Environment Quality has worked for over 20 years to clean up these factories.
Unfortunately, most low income families live near abandoned factories. They sit on barley usable and polluted land that is lowering housing value. There is hope for these regions though. With State and Federal government efforts, these factories are being removed. Families can look forward to see new parks in their neighborhoods or new buildings fit for the modern age. It will take some time, but in the next 20 years we can expect to see less pollution is low income neighborhoods.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 9th print edition.
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