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For more than half a century, 441 Bauchet Street has been the address where Los Angeles’ most stark social and environmental inequalities converge. It’s the location of L.A.’s Men’s Central Jail, the largest facility in the most populated county jail system in the country. On any given day, about 5,000 people are incarcerated there.

A block south from the jail is the 101 freeway, one of the most traveled highways in America, which generates dangerous levels of air pollution linked to a slew of birth defects. A block east is the L.A. River, home to at least 20 different pollutants, from feces to oil, at levels that violate federal standards. Another 100 yards east is the SP Railyard and Union Pacific Transportation Center, which operate at all hours, receiving big rig diesel trucks that spew an estimated 40 tons of particulate matter into the air annually.

According to data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental justice screening tool, those detained inside Men’s Central Jail are situated closer to toxic wastewater and hazardous waste than 96 percent of the country. Their lifetime cancer risk from the inhalation of air toxics is in th... Read more

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