Toxic Cities

How Pollution Is Killing Our Urban Residents and Economies

by John I. "Hans" Gilderbloom, Editor


According to medical journal Lancet, the number one killer of people is air pollution—nearly 7 million.

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Cover image for Toxic Cities

June 2021


Pages 250
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Health & Wellness/Public Health
  Current Events and Issues/General
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A renowned expert in urban studies offers a powerful, troubling analysis of how pollution is stifling economies and extinguishing human life based on hard data from the U.S. Census, the Center for Disease Control, and the Social Security Administration.

The evidence is clear: pollution is the leading cause of greenhouse gases that are resulting in climate change. Not only do studies estimate that at least 3.5 million lives have been shortened by environmental toxins around the world over the last decade, but that 7 million more will face premature death due to environmental toxins across the next 10 years.|

This book focuses on the intersection of environmental degradation and public health, documenting how pollution and other environmental abuses are reducing quality and length of life, as well as causing economic losses as well. Chapters examine the negative effects of air pollution such as automobile emissions, to ground and water pollution and more. The roles of both the polluters and the politicians who fail to regulate the activity are discussed.

The author also shines a spotlight on the issue of "environmental racism," a phenomenon where the most polluted places are home to a far larger percentage of "minorities"—African Americans and Latinos, most noticeably—than white Americans. This book also suggests potential solutions to the complex problems of pollution.


  • Provides scientific proof that the most successful cities are those with low pollution levels and that pollution is the leading cause of greenhouse gases that cause climate change
  • Presents the findings of evidence-based research that pushes back against climate change deniers
  • Supplies analysis of environmental problems and realistic solutions for community activists and elected leaders to act on
  • Appropriate for courses in sociology, environmental studies, sustainability, public administration, planning, and political science
Author Info

John I. "Hans" Gilderbloom is a Fellow of the Scholars Strategy Network at Harvard University, a professor in the Graduate Planning, Public Administration, and Urban Affairs Program at the University of Louisville, and also director of the university's Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods (, which is currently funded by grants including nearly $2 million from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier in his career, he worked as executive editor of Sustain: A Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development. Gilderbloom earned an award for "extraordinary service" to President Clinton's Council on Sustainable Development in 1996, and was recently named one of the "top 100 urban thinkers in the world" in an international poll. He has consulted on environmental issues for leaders of cities in countries including Australia, Netherlands, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Russia, Cuba, Mexico, and Canada. His research and writing on environmental issues and sustainability has appeared in 8 books he coauthored or edited, 50 scholarly peer-reviewed journals, 30 chapters in edited books, 11 monographs, and dozens of opinion pieces in newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Courier-Journal, and USA Today, and The New York Times. Gilderbloom has been honored with numerous academic awards, including the Distinguished Faculty Award for Research and Creative Activity and the Presidential Medal for Distinguished Faculty Research at the University of Louisville—the highest honor for a faculty member among it 2,043 professors. His book, Promise and Betrayal: University and the Battle for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods, includes an introduction by former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and endorsements from President Bill Clinton and Harvard president Derek Bok.

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