Breathing in Detroit

Against the Current, No. 195, July/August 2018

• The incinerator is a health risk for a community that is already overburdened by air pollution.

• A Detroiter is three times more likely than other Michigan residents to be hospitalized for asthma, with children living near the incinerator five times more likely. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services calls Detroit the “epicenter of asthma.”

• The Detroit municipal waste incinerator on the city’s near east side receives trash from 10 Michigan counties as well as Illinois, Ohio and Canada.

• Almost 77,000 children live within five miles of the incinerator. Within a mile of the incinerator, 87% of residents are persons of color; 60% live below the federal poverty line.

• Detroit pays approximately 66% more than other cities to send its trash to the incinerator. Pollution from the DRP facility causes $2.6 million in health costs each year.

• The incinerator violated the federal Clean Air Act 379 times in 2015-16. These violations included failure to monitor sulfer dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide as well as exceeding the limits of allowed carbon monoxide emissions and failure to effectively capture particulate matter.

—“Detroit Incinerator Fact Sheet” issued by Breathe Free Detroit (

July-August 2018, ATC 195