Santa Clara County suffers great environmental and occupational health problems caused by high technology development. Yet no public health program exists to track and prevent illness and injuries caused by hazardous chemical exposures.
With a rising population of recent immigrants, 1.6 million people make their home in Silicon Valley, the birthplace of the electronics industry. The wealth of Valley executives and affluent engineers contrasts with the growing number of working poor people on the assembly line and in the service sector.
People of color, mostly Latino and Asian/Pacific Islander, make up forty-five percent of the general population and fifty-six percent of children under the age of fifteen. Lower income people of color work in the most hazardous jobs and live in the most polluted neighborhoods in Silicon Valley.
Lower Income People of Color Live, Work and Play on the Unhealthy Front Lines
Exposure to hazardous chemicals may contribute to known health problems and increase susceptibility to other hazards, like infection.
Ethnic minorities and low-income groups suffer poorer health compared to the more affluent, white population in Silicon Valley, losing more years of life per death from heart disease, cancer and cerebro-vascular disease (strokes), for example.
People of color, especially women, also face greater health and safety risks from industrial pollution both on the job and in the community. A majority of workers in high tech semi-skilled production jobs, which often involve hazardous chemical handling and exposures, are people of color, mostly women.
In addition, Latinos and Asian/Pacific Islanders also live in neighborhoods nearest to sites of toxic leaks and spills from industry, resulting in "double exposure" to chemicals.
Exporting Technology and Toxics
As the high-tech industry has expanded out of Silicon Valley, it has not only exported its technology to countries all over the world, but also its toxic...