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Steve Neaving


6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Social Studies, Civics, Health

Resource Type

  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Midwest, Michigan

Struggling to Breathe in 48217, Michigan's Most Toxic ZIP Code

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  • This article addresses issues of environmental racism in Detroit, Michigan, by explaining the negative health impacts of the toxic chemicals released by factories in the area.
  • The environmental justice movement is highlighted as an important approach to alleviating environmental racism and creating healthier communities.
Teaching Tips


  • The article provides historic insight into the changes that have taken place in the community over time, which has led to the issues they are facing today.
  • The article illustrates environmental racism and the need for environmental justice.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Per the scientist notes, it will be helpful to discuss the difference between facts and opinions with students.
  • Providing students with some background on environmental racism and environmental justice can also help students better understand the article.


  • The article includes links to additional studies and information. Teachers can assign groups of students to explore one of the resources and report back key information to the class.
  • The article can be read independently, in small groups, or aloud as a whole group to best meet the needs of your students.
  • Social studies, civics, or history classes can further explore the many different government organizations and policies mentioned in the article to learn their history and assess their effectiveness.
  • In science classes, students can research how the chemicals discussed in the article impact the environment and climate.
  • In language arts classes, students can distinguish which claims are well supported by evidence and which are not, and discuss bias in the article.
Scientist Notes
Resource has too many competing conflicts of interest. For instance, the statement by Justin Onwenu "politicians have been kicking environmental justice down the road for too long" seems biased and subjective since it is not supported with facts. Also in the content is "a company controlled by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, buying petroleum waste and selling it on the international market" may be correct too, but it's a subjective and biased report since they are not supported with scientific facts. Resource is recommended, but educators should take notice while teaching students. Date: 05/11/2021
  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.12.6-8 Assess specific rules and laws (both actual and proposed) as means of addressing public problems.
      • D2.Civ.12.9-12 Analyze how people use and challenge local, state, national, and international laws to address a variety of public issues.
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.6.6-8 Draw on multiple disciplinary lenses to analyze how a specific problem can manifest itself at local, regional, and global levels over time, identifying its characteristics and causes, and the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address the problem.
      • D4.6.9-12 Use disciplinary and interdisciplinary lenses to understand the characteristics and causes of local, regional, and global problems; instances of such problems in multiple contexts; and challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address these problems over time and place.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.8 Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, distinguishing claims that are supported by reasons and evidence from claims that are not.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.7.10 By the end of the year, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 6-8 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.10 By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11-CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend literary nonfiction at the high end of the grades 11-CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.
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