The environmental justice movement in the United States began in the 1980s, but the inequities identified by those activists were many years in the making. In Clean and White Carl A. Zimring locates the origin of inequitable exposures to environmental risks and hazards experienced by nonwhite Americans to the intertwined histories of racist ideologies, public health and hygiene, and urban sanitation.

Zimring centers his history of environmental racism on solid waste disposal sites in and near American cities, one of the earliest and most central concerns of environmental justice activists. Zimring argues that these discriminatory landscapes, identified and well documented by scholars and activists in recent years, have nineteenth-century roots.

The book begins with a discussion of Thomas Jefferson's racism, his love of all...

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