Redlining and systemic environmental racism contribute to poor indoor air quality and poor maternal-fetal health outcomes for families of color, a collaborative reporting project by Grist, Next City, and the California Health Report shows. In Fresno County, California, for example, Black people are nearly 75% more likely to have a preterm birth than white people. Homes in historically redlined neighborhoods are more likely to be located close to freeways and industrial pollution sources, and also more likely to poorly sealed thus allowing more outdoor air pollution inside.

This means there is no safe place for families to go to escape air pollution from industry, traffic, ports, or wildfire smoke, and “stay inside” alerts meant to protect the public from poor air quality days do little to protect families of color. The Lancet recently found that air pollution toxins can be found in fetal brain and lung tissue as early as the first trimester. “Preterm birth has a lot of confounding variables,” Mack-Franklin said. “It’s very difficult to say that it’s for one particular reason, unless that reason is racism.” (Racism: Grist/Next City/California Health Report; Fetal pollution: E&E $)