Environmental Justice & Public Health Concerns

Environmental Justice Demands the Amortization of GAF

West Dallas Pollution Burdens

There are only two asphalt shingle factories operating in the City of Dallas. Both are located in communities of color: GAF in West Dallas and TAMKO in Joppa. These factories are two of the largest polluters in Dallas County and operate directly across the street from homes as a result of racist zoning.

GAF’s West Dallas factory is a source of air pollution not only for its own production lines – it also blends asphalt to send to other GAF factories. In other words, West Dallas residents are asked to bear the burden of this pollution from their 76-year factory on behalf of other communities with newer, and less polluting facilities.

West Dallas is Already Disproportionately Burdened by Air Pollution

In 2020, Paul Quinn College’s Urban Research Initiative published a landmark report that used EPA and State air pollution inventory data to rank the most polluted Zip Codes and Council Districts. West Dallas’ 75212 Zip Code and City Council District 6 ranked as the most polluted in Dallas. It ranked 2nd in most PM pollution and 1st in releasing the most Volatile Organic Compounds.

This is exactly the kind of disproportionate burden described in the City of Dallas’ own Comprehensive Housing Policy Racial Equity Assessment, released in October 2021:

EPA ECHO EJ Ranking Index Results

EPA uses its own national databases to construct Environmental Justice rankings for neighborhoods across the country in its ECHO online mapping service. The smallest unit EPA provides data for is a mile radius around any U.S. polluter or home.

Utilizing the EPA map, this is how the neighborhoods within a mile of GAF’s West Dallas asphalt shingle factory compare to the rest of the nation.

Environmental Justice index ranking for neighborhoods within 1 mile of GAF (2021)

Singleton Corridor’s neighborhoods are ranked in the top 10% of the nation’s most toxic communities in 8 out of 12 indicators, including:

  • Exposure to Particulate Matter pollution
  • Exposure to Diesel Particulate Matter pollution
  • Air Toxics Cancer risk
  • Air Toxics Respiratory risk

Public Health Demands Amortization of GAF

West Dallas Public Health

In 2019, Parkland Hospital published its Dallas County Needs Assessment report documenting the health disparities between Dallas Zip Codes. Not surprisingly, it found that West Dallas residents suffer a disproportionate number of health burdens, either in addition to, or caused by the community’s proximity to so much hazardous air pollution.

West Dallas’ 75212 Zip Code ranked among the worst for:

  • Cancer mortality
  • Heart Disease mortality
  • Diabetes mortality

Check out these maps created by Parkland Hospital that show the disparities in public health outcomes across the City of Dallas.

Shingle Factories are Dallas’ New Lead Smelters

The kind of pollution GAF is emitting is capable of significant and permanent developmental harm. Not only can it cause breathing problems and heart problems, but can also increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, and has the potential to affect every organ in the body. It can also rob the young of IQ. In this respect, Dallas asphalt shingle factories are a lot like the lead smelters that operated in West Dallas and East Oak Cliff for decades before they were amortized by the City of Dallas.

Today it seems quite incredible any municipality would willingly host a large lead smelter in its midst, much less three (GAF, TAMKO and Owens Corning). The forceable shuttering of those smelters by the City was a decision that instantly improved Dallas public health. It was the necessary, and right, thing to do. So is shuttering GAF in 2022.

Next: Zoned to Fail