PSR-LA’s founding mission to protect public health from nuclear threats is as urgent today as it ever was. Nuclear weapons cause catastrophic destruction and illness on a scale modern medicine cannot meet. Rather than fulfill international obligations to disarm, the Trump Administration is planning to spend billions to rebuild our entire nuclear arsenal and to expand the role these weapons play in our security strategy. These plans fuel a new arms race, divert critical resources from pressing human and environmental needs, and jeopardize our health. Radioactive waste and contamination from weapons production and nuclear power are exceedingly toxic and can remain so for millennia. Just 30 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory remains highly polluted from decades of nuclear and aerospace activities, including a partial nuclear meltdown. PSR-LA views nuclear policies through a public health, environmental, and justice lens, advocating for nuclear disarmament, protective radiation exposure policies, and full cleanup of contaminated nuclear sites.
Air & Climate Justice
Despite our state’s reputation as a leader on climate and environmental issues, Los Angeles is home to some of the worst air pollution in the country. The region routinely fails to meet federal air quality standards, and suffers from high levels of ozone pollution and smog. Los Angeles is also home to widespread urban oil drilling, which drives air pollution and global climate change, while harming the health of local residents. Air pollution is linked to higher rates of asthma, respiratory problems, and cancer risk. In particular, low-income communities and communities of color are more likely to live in close proximity to the facilities that pollute the air and warm the planet, and experience worse health outcomes as a result of these exposures. PSR-LA works to protect vulnerable communities by reducing emissions that harm human health and speed global climate change. This includes advocating for direct emission reductions at both regional and state levels, working to end oil drilling in Los Angeles, and ensuring that we transition to an economy that is fueled by clean, renewable energy and that provides economic benefits to all communities without harming health.
Land Use & Health
South LA has been identified as one of California’s top 5-10% most socially and environmentally burdened communities, with its abundance of toxic releases from industrial facilities, hazardous waste generators and contaminated tracts of land. Los Angeles residents living near polluting industrial sites are at a greater risk of severe health inequities due to poor air quality and exposure to environmental hazards and toxins. Furthermore, South LA is a majority community of color, with a significant population of children under the age of 17. These statistics show that we need to pay closer attention to the use of land as it affects health, and in particular the use of former or current industrial sites. PSR-LA’s Land Use & Health aims to (1) promote healthy land uses in LA and California, (2) reduce exposure to toxic contaminants present in land, air and water, and (3) eliminate the possibility of forced displacement due to redevelopment.
PSR-LA’s Toxics Program approaches toxic chemicals through an intersectional lens that acknowledges that our extractive materials economy is driving the increased use of toxic chemicals. There are over 80,000 chemicals in use in US markets, less than 10% of which have undergone even minimal screening by the EPA for risks they may pose to human health and the environment. Many industrial and agricultural chemicals are made and distributed throughout Southern California. Exposure to these chemicals is ubiquitous in our daily environments and in our bodies. PSR-LA wants to make sure that green chemistry and clean production innovations are rooted in the needs of front-line communities and workers who suffer the greatest harm. From plastics to pesticides, we are working to reduce the use and exposure to toxic chemicals. PSR-LA works to fundamentally change the way we manufacture consumer products and how we regulate production facilities. We need innovations in green chemistry, clean production, and to build the capacity of our community partners to organize and advocate for policies that promote safer alternatives.