Environmental justice effects refer to the consequences of environmental injustices experienced by marginalized communities and vulnerable populations. These effects are wide-ranging and can have profound impacts on public health, socio-economic well-being, and quality of life.

Understanding Environmental Justice Impacts.

Health Disparities in Communities:

Marginalized communities often bear a disproportionate burden of environmental hazards, such as air and water pollution, hazardous waste sites, and industrial emissions. As a result, residents in these communities experience higher rates of respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and other health problems compared to wealthier or predominantly white neighborhoods.

Economic disparities and Inequities:

Environmental injustices can exacerbate economic disparities by affecting property values, job opportunities, and economic development in affected communities. Industries and facilities that contribute to environmental pollution may also deter investment and lead to disinvestment in these areas, perpetuating cycles of poverty and unemployment.

Displacement and Gentrification:

Contribute to the displacement of residents from their homes due to pollution, unsafe living conditions, or redevelopment projects. In some cases, gentrification may occur as wealthier individuals and businesses move into previously marginalized neighborhoods, leading to the displacement of long-term residents and changes in the social fabric of the community.

Educational and Social Impacts:

Children and families living in environmentally burdened communities may face challenges accessing quality education, recreational opportunities, and social services. Environmental injustices can also erode community cohesion and trust, leading to social isolation and disempowerment among residents.

Psychological and Emotional Stress:

Living in environments with high levels of pollution and environmental degradation can contribute to chronic stress, anxiety, and depression among residents. Concerns about health risks, environmental hazards, and the future well-being of the planet can take a toll on mental health and overall quality of life.

Disproportionate Climate Change Impacts:

Marginalized communities often face disproportionate impacts, including extreme weather events, rising sea levels, and heatwaves. These communities may have fewer resources to adapt to climate change and are more likely to experience adverse consequences such as food insecurity, displacement, and loss of livelihoods.

According to the World Health Organization, climate change is the number one environmental health crisis in the world, with air pollution being the underlying cause of seven million premature deaths world-wide.

Mental Health

can be impacted by extreme heat, stress from weather events, and climate anxiety. Pollution can also have adverse effects on brain health.


are effected by deteriorating air quality, heatwaves, changing disease patterns, which increase risks for respiratory conditions.

Allergy and Immunity

climate change and rising temperatures extend allergy seasons and worsen air quality, potentially causing more allergies and asthma attacks.

Heart Health

exposure to air pollution can lead to high blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks.

Discover Vecinos KC LEADS:
Environmental Justice Effects

Uncover the profound impacts of environmental justice in our community with Vecinos KC
LEADS. Explore our document to understand the effects and join us in advocating for a fairer,
healthier future for all. Delve deeper into environmental justice effects now!
Shopping Basket

Atenas Mena

Atenas Mena is the Environmental Health Director and shares a co-leadership role at CleanAirNow. Atenas was born and raised in Kansas City and is a proud first-generation Mexican American. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Avila University in 2014 and went on to receive her master’s in nursing leadership from Missouri Western State University in 2019.

In addition to working as a nurse, Atenas received extensive environmental health training in the field, working with the Children’s Mercy Environmental Health Program team, as both an educator and a team coordinator. She has worked continuously throughout the last few years with CleanAirNow through boots-on-the-ground projects, served on the board of directors, and has recently transitioned into the current leadership role as Environmental Health Director. Atenas centers her work around reducing health inequities, educating communities on environmental health impacts, and empowering community members to have a voice and fight for equity and environmental justice.

Atenas recently received The Sapling Award in recognition of her outstanding commitment and leadership in environmental health nursing. This Award seeks to recognize a nurse leader who goes beyond everyday nursing endeavors to actively promote and protect environmental and human health and advance environmental justice.

Beto Lugo Martinez

Beto is an environmental justice organizer and co-executive director of CleanAirNow. He serves to raise community voices in the fight against environmental racism and to overcome the systemic exclusion of frontline communities from the decision-making process. His lived experience, growing up fenceline to a petrochemical facility continues to drive his work at the intersection of climate, environmental justice, and public health. He is a founding member of the California Environmental Justice Coalition, Co-Founder of La Union Hace La Fuerza, a farmworker justice organization and member of national CJ & EJ networks including the EJ Leadership Forum, Building Equity and Alignment (BEA) and the National Leadership Advisory Board Member of the Moving Forward Network.

Beto’s contributions to the movement include organizing, legislation that prioritizes environmental justice and community-led research amongst many other community-engaged initiatives that directly inform state policy. He has co-authored multiple academic publications on community-based participatory research, air pollution, data accessibility, and community engagement. In August 2023 was invited to continue serving through 2025 as a member of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, to represent a grassroots frontline perspective. He also serves in advisory board roles of professional associations and academic institutions, such as the American Public Health Association’s Center for Climate, Health and Equity, Children’s Environmental Health Sciences Translational Research at USC, Community Engagement Core of the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center at USC, Health Effects Institute Environmental Justice Advisory Group and USC MPH Public Health Advisory Board Member for the Trojan Scholars for Advancement in Public Health.

Beto is currently involved in a research project titled “Building Momentum to Bridge Climate and Health Across KU Campuses and the Community supported by the Health Humanities and Arts Research Collaborative, The Commons, and the Office of Research at the University of Kansas.”